understanding liability

What is Negligence and How Does It Establish Liability?

The success of your personal injury claim hinges on one important factor: negligence. Negligence is what determines liability, and without negligence established, you do not have a case.

The definition of negligence is simple: a person must fail to behave with a standard of reasonable care that a person of ordinary prudence would have exercised in a similar situation.

The 5 Elements of Negligence

1. Existence of a Legal Duty

There would be no negligence if the defendant did not owe you a legal duty. In this instance, the obligation of the defendant was that they exhibit a reasonable level of care. For example, driving while under the influence is not a rational act of care, and all motorists in North Carolina have a legal obligation to drive safely on the road.

2. Failure to Exercise the Legal Duty

Using the drunken driver example, that driver chooses to ignore drinking and driving laws in the state – therefore, ignoring their legal duty to exercise care toward others.

3. Physical Harm Resulted from Negligent Actions

Even if a person violated their legal obligation, you must suffer an injury that was the result of the act. If there is no physical harm or no one is injured, there are no grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.

4. Injuries Created Actual Damages

Furthermore, the harm caused must have actual damages. If you suffer from a minor scrape that is easily cared for by a bandage at home, do not require medical treatment, and are otherwise unaffected emotionally, physically, and financially, then there is no basis for a lawsuit.

To prove negligence, you must have an injury that leads to damages so that the defendant is liable to you for something.

5. The Proximate Cause shows the Harm was within the Scope of Liability

The proximate cause of your injury must align with the defendant’s failure to act. For example, a driver is driving while under the influence and causes an accident with a vehicle. However, you are in an accident because you decided to watch the drivers on the side of the road versus the path ahead. In this instance, proximate cause does not apply. While you were injured and involved in an accident, the drunken driver is not the proximate or direct cause of your accident.

NO Liability Without Negligence

If you cannot establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant meets all five criteria for negligence, then there is no basis for a liability claim.

Luckily, a personal injury attorney can assist you with gathering evidence and presenting it so that it proves your facts.

Schedule a no obligation consultation with a personal injury attorney in North Carolina now at 919-682-5648 or request more information online.