Have you been harmed by another persons conduct? For example, have you or someone know been injured in a car accident? Did you slip and fall in a grocery store? If so, you may have a valid negligence claim for the harm that you suffered. A person, city, entity, etc., may be liable for its negligence if the plaintiff can prove the following elements: (1) duty; (2) breach of duty; (3) causation; (4) damages.
Just about everything that we do in life creates some risk of harm. Driving a vehicle all the way to owning a home creates a risk of harm to others. While there is no duty to help other people, if one’s conduct creates some risk of harm to another, that person has the duty to use reasonable care to prevent harm. For example, if one’s conduct, whether accidently or intentionally, renders another helpless, that person has a duty to use reasonable care. Additionally, if one has a special relationship with the person (i.e. parent-child relationship) one has a duty to use reasonable care to prevent that other person from harming third parties.
If it is determined that the defendant had a duty to use reasonable care, it must then be shown that the defendant’s conduct breached the applicable standard of care. The standard to which a person must conform depends significantly on the specific defendant. Generally, if the defendant is an adult, the defendant must act like a reasonable adult under the circumstances. If, however, the defendant is a doctor who acted negligently during a surgery, the standard of care is different. There are many different standards that may be applicable depending on the circumstances, which include, but is not limited to, mental states, age, professionals, etc.
Even if the defendant had a duty and the standard of care was breached, the plaintiff must also show that the defendant’s action or inaction was a cause of plaintiff’s harm. The plaintiff must show that but for the defendant’s action or inaction, plaintiff would not have been harmed. Additionally, the plaintiff must show that the type of harm that plaintiff endured was foreseeable and is the type of harm that is normally caused by the action or inaction. For example, if a woman was walking in a parking lot that belonged to a restaurant and fell into an unmarked pothole, which caused her to break her leg, the restaurant likely caused her injuries. Since the restaurant failed to either fix the pothole or warn its patrons of the pothole, the restaurant likely caused her harm.
Finally, in order for a person to succeed on a negligence claim, the individual must have been damaged. Damages can be either bodily harm or personal property.
Negligence claims are extremely fact specific and must be fully evaluated to determine whether a claim exists. Contact Dow Law Office so that an experienced attorney can evaluate your potential claim and develop a strategic plan of action tailored to your matter.