The manner in which the term negligence is used by the general public is different from how it is used as a legal concept. However, when you are involved in a personal injury case this term is likely to come up as an important part of your case. This article will discuss negligence and personal injury cases.
The majority of personal injury cases use negligence as a legal concept to show that the other person is responsible for the accident. According to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute [Negligence | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (cornell.edu)] the term negligence is defined as “a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions when there is some duty to act.” From this definition it is correct to say that the legal concept of negligence is based on a standard of care that is practiced by an ordinary person under similar circumstances as the individual in question. “Prudence” simply mean care. Speak to a Bakersfield car accident attorney to see if negligence can be proven against the other driver in your case.
As noted, the concept of negligence is used to prove or show that a person had a duty of care and failed at it and that gave rise to the injury that resulted in the personal injury case. There are four basic elements of negligence:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty of care
These elements can be explained in this way: the plaintiff must show that the defendant had a duty of care (1) owed to him or her and failed to meet that duty, which means breached the duty of care (2). The plaintiff must have suffered some injuries, damages or losses (4) as a result of and caused by the defendant’s breach of the duty of care (3). As noted above the plaintiff must prove his or her case.
Let us use the example of a car accident. Jane is involved in a rear end collision accident with Marlon. While approaching a traffic light-controlled intersection, Jane stops as the traffic light turns red. However, Marlon traveling behind Jane takes a moment to change the channel on the radio and collides into Jane. Jane suffers whiplash injuries and damage to her tail light and bumper. In her personal injury case, Jane must prove Marlon’s negligence in the following way:
- Duty of care – Marlon owed Jane duty of care, as a road user, in that all drivers must be fully attentive and focused on driving
- Breach of duty of care – Marlon breached his duty of care by focusing on changing the radio station rather than noticing Jane brake and stop at the traffic light intersection
- Causation – Jane must be able to link her whiplash injuries and the damage to her vehicle to Marlon’s causing the accident.
- Damages – Jane must prove that she suffered whiplash by way of medical records as well as damages to her vehicle by evidence such as photographs of the damaged areas, a police report, or repair records.