Does the law say the person or company that caused my injury is liable for it?
Accidents happen every day in the US. Many are injured or killed in these accidents, and sometimes they are caused by the negligence of another person or company. Whether you are hurt in a car accident, by a defective product or by
medical malpractice, the outcome is often similar. You will be dealing with personal injuries, medical costs, lost wages, out of pocket expenses and sometimes serious pain and suffering, both mental and physical.
For you to be compensated for your injuries, you must prove in a civil lawsuit that another person or entity was negligent. There are two basic types of liability: vicarious and strict.
Vicarious liability involves small businesses and corporations that can be held legally responsible in a situation where they did not work to safely ensure the safety of others. This can happen in a slip and fall case or in a workplace injury case.
Strict liability is the type of liability that is relevant to most personal injury lawsuits. It also can be involved in product defect cases.
To find another party negligent for your injuries, you must prove the following by a preponderance of the evidence during the trial:
- You were owed a duty of care by the defendant. For example, if you are rear-ended at a traffic light because the driver behind you was texting and driving, that driver failed to meet the duty of care to you to drive in a responsible and legal manner.
- The defendant breached their duty of car in that they did not act in a reasonable way in the circumstances that caused the accident. In the texting and driving example, the defendant behaved unreasonably by texting and driving, which is now illegal in almost all states. A ‘reasonable’ person does not drive while texting and driving because he or she knows that the behavior is dangerous and can lead to accidents.
- The breach of the duty of care by the defendant led to your injuries and would not have happened if the defendant had not acted that way. If the driver in our example above had not been texting and driving, he would have been looking at the road and would have seen your car stopped in front of him. He would not have hit you and you would not have been injured.
- You are entitled to damages because all elements of proving negligence have been satisfied. To be compensated after proving these elements were satisfied, you need to show that you have property damages and/or physical or mental injuries and need to be compensated for them.
The amount of the defendant’s liability for your injuries if negligence has been proven will depend upon the evidence in the case and how much you are injured. Generally, if you are successful in a personal injury case at trial or the negligent
person agrees to settle before a verdict is rendered, then you will be entitled to compensation for your property damages, medical bills, rehabilitation, pain and suffering, and lost income.