When discussing a case with an attorney from a personal injury law office, there's a good chance the conversation will turn to the issue of negligence. Potential claimants oftentimes wonder what exactly makes a defendant's conduct negligent in the eyes of the law. Let's take a look at what standards are likely to apply.
Assuming a Duty of Care
In many situations in life, people take on a responsibility to not allow others to be harmed. The easiest version of this to understand is invitation. When a store opens its doors and invites the public in, it takes on a duty of care to prevent shoppers from being hurt by preventable incidents. This is the logic that underpins most slip-and-fall accident cases.
Another fairly easy-to-understand case involves activities that are legally recognized as dangerous. Someone using explosives, for example, automatically takes on a duty of care to prevent any and all injuries. This is the case because society frowns upon people recklessly using explosives, and many types of explosives can only be used with a license.
When There Isn't a Duty of Care
You'll note that the vast majority of scenarios involving negligence involve someone actively taking on a duty of care. Conversely, it's extremely rare that the duty can be assigned generally without a defendant choosing to do something. For example, you don't have a duty as a passerby to rescue someone who is trapped in a burning building.
A duty of care almost never applies unless at least one party entered into a relationship that establishes it. Drivers, for example, take on this duty when the take a vehicle out on the road. Medical professionals take on a duty of care when they start working on a patient.
Is the Conduct Negligent?
You should note that something bad happening is not the same as negligence. The law recognizes that bad things happen. For example, it's hard to accuse another driver of negligence if they hit a patch of black ice seconds before an accident occurred.
Generally, the injuries had to be preventable with a reasonable and expected level of care. Businesses have an obligation to clean their floors after spills, for example, because a reasonable person would worry that a wet spot might lead to an accident.
There are also limited cases where anything bad happening is considered negligent. The previous example involving explosives falls into this category because society demands that dangerous things be handled with immense care. At a personal injury law firm, this is called strict liability.
To learn more, contact a resource like the Law Offices of Kevin R. Hansen.
After being involved in a serious auto accident with a drunk driver, I struggled heavily with getting the driver's insurance company to open a claim. When the insurance company started pushing back, I knew I needed to do something. I spent a lot of time digging through the laws surrounding auto accident claims so that I knew what my legal rights were. I even talked with an auto accident attorney. I created this site to teach others about what I learned, including my court experience. I hope it helps you to determine how you should proceed with your auto accident case.