What is Negligence?
Negligence is a critical component of a personal injury lawsuit. In order for the plaintiff to receive compensation for damages, the plaintiff and his or her attorney must establish negligence on the part of the defendant. Therefore, a basic understanding of the concept of negligence is important to anyone who has sustained a personal injury as a result of an auto accident, pedestrian accident, workplace accident, slip-and-fall accident, medical malpractice, or other accident.
In a personal injury lawsuit, a person or business can be held liable for injuries sustained by the plaintiff under the legal concept of negligence. Negligence is any “conduct that falls below the standard established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm.” The law requires that people and businesses conduct themselves in a manner that conforms to a reasonable standard of conduct. When this standard of care is violated, the law requires that the person or business compensate a person who is injured as a result.
There are four components to negligence:
- There was a duty of care owed to the defendant.
- There was a breach of that duty.
- The breach of this duty of care was the cause of the defendant’s accident.
- The defendant suffered damages as the result of his or her accident.
Additionally, some professions and institutions, such as doctors and hospitals, are legally required to uphold a standard of care accepted by their practice or industry. If they fail to uphold this standard of care they may be liable for malpractice, which is based on the concept of negligence.
Who is at Fault?
In order for negligence to be established, the defendant and his or her attorney must establish each of the four elements. Negligence cases often revolve around whether or not there was a breach of duty, whether or not the breach was the cause of the defendant’s injuries, and to what extent the defendant suffered damages. Therefore, if you suffer a personal injury it’s very important that you preserve and keep track of any documents relevant to your case, including medical bills and records, documents from insurance companies, any document you receive from the plaintiff, police reports, records of lost pay and other expenses. Your Colorado personal injury attorney can use these documents to prove the damages component of your case and maximize your compensation.
In many personal injury cases, fault does not solely lie with one defendant. For instance, if you are injured as the result of a motorcycle accident, the truck driver who struck your motorcycle may be held partially liable, and the trucking company that employs the driver and the manufacturer of the flammable material that spilled out of the truck and burned you may also be partially liable. It’s very important that you and your attorney identify all possible defendants in your case to maximize your compensation. Also: you may be partially at fault under the concept of contributory negligence if you failed to wear a helmet or failed to obey traffic rules. Contributory negligence means that any compensation from the defendant(s) can be limited to the extent that you are found partially responsible for your own injuries.
Should I Hire a Colorado Personal Injury Attorney?
Because a negligence case can involve multiple and complex issues, a number of different defendants, and insurance companies with a strong interest in fighting your case and virtually unlimited resources at their disposal, if you’ve suffered an injury as the result of someone else’s carelessness you should contact an experienced Colorado attorney specializing in personal injury today. An attorney can wade through the complex issues involved, can help identify all possible defendants, can fight the insurance companies who want to pin the blame on you, and can get you the compensation that you deserve.