How Liability Is Determined In Injury Cases

Law Blog

When you discuss a case with a personal injury lawyer, a lot of the conversation boils down to the concept of liability. In American law, this goes beyond the simple idea that a person is responsible for something bad happening. Liability implies that the defendant had a duty to prevent something they were responsible for from occurring. For a personal injury attorney, this means every case has to be broken down into its pieces to determine who is liable. This article looks at how a personal injury law firm typically goes about that task.

Types of Liability

Many cases are grounded in negligence. This is when someone fails to take proper care. For example, a reasonable person would expect your local gas station to neutralize or clean up spills that might cause fires. If a gasoline spill caught fire and left you with burns, especially after an attendant had ample opportunity to fix the situation, that would be grounds for a claim.

Gross negligence represents the next level up in liability. This is when someone ignores a problem for a socially unacceptable length of time, such as a building superintendent leaving damaged steps for years. Recklessness is intentional conduct that wasn't meant to harm anyone. Someone running around a store might be deemed reckless if they collide with another customer. Finally, there is malice. This is behavior aimed at harming others, such as criminal assaults.

Identifying a Party with a Duty of Care

The central argument for every injury claim is that the defendant had what's called a duty of care. In legalese, this duty refers to an obligation to take reasonable precautions to prevent harm from coming to someone else.

A person who steps on an escalator at a shopping complex, for example, does so under the assumption that it is being regularly maintained by a qualified technician. If the operator failed to pay for maintenance, then anyone injured while riding the escalator might have cause to file a personal injury claim for negligence.

When Is a Duty Assumed?

Every activity is a little different, but most require active engagement. In the previous example with an escalator, the owners of the shopping complex took on a duty of care when they opened the complex to the public and invited people to just stroll in. Similarly, drivers assume a duty of care when they put their cars on the road. Employers have a duty of care to their employees at the worksite.

For more information about liability or other aspects of the law, reach out a personal injury lawyer


17 August 2020

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