Legal Guide

Types of negligence in personal injury lawsuits

A personal injury case can come about for any number of different reasons, some being more common than others. In order to help you better understand what kinds of negligence may lead up to a personal injury lawsuit, we have compiled some examples.

Types of negligence in personal injury lawsuits

In order to show that negligence existed, you need to show two things mainly: that there existed a duty of care for the would-be defendant, and that this duty of care was violated. It does not have to be a declared duty of care, merely has to be a common sense one. For instance, anyone driving on the road has a duty of care for every other driver and pedestrian to follow the rules of the road. Depending on the circumstances, this may be easier or more difficult. Showing that the duty of care was violated may also be more difficult depending on the circumstances. The next step is to show that this breach was the cause of your damages (either fully or partially, depending on the system of determining negligence). And finally, you must show that the damages occurred. This is usually done through showing medical expenses, lost wages, and more. Proving negligence can be difficult, so hiring personal injury lawyers will do a world of good for your claim.

Comparative negligence

Comparative negligence is a system where, even if the plaintiff has some degree of liability in the incident, so long as another can also be shown to have some degree of responsibility for your injury. Comparative negligence operates in three different theories:

Modified comparative negligence (50 percent)

In certain jurisdictions, they practice modified combative negligence (50 percent), which says that so long as the plaintiff's liability is found to be under 50 percent, they can pursue personal injury damages against another party. However, the more responsible the plaintiff is for their injury, the less money they can be expected to receive as compensation. For example, if they are 49 percent liable, they should not expect to be given a big payout for the injury. The compensation will be lowered based on the percentage. So if you are deemed 20 percent liable and would normally receive 150,000 dollars in compensation, you would drop 20 percent, lowering it to 120,000 dollars.

Modified comparative negligence (51 percent)

Modified comparative negligence (51 percent) works the same as modified comparative negligence (50 percent), with one obvious difference: it allows for one percent more potential liability. This system is the one used in Texas instead of the 50 percent one. It may not seem like a big deal, but hey, one percent of 150,000 is 1,500, which is nothing to shake a stick at.

Pure comparative negligence

Finally, pure comparative negligence is the principle that, if a person is even one percent responsible for your injury, they can be held liable under the law. Liability under this system works the same, so even though you can still get a payout if you are 99 percent liable, it is going to be minuscule compared to what it could have normally been.

Contributory negligence

Contributory negligence is a system of negligence that one will rarely encounter, only if they are filing their personal injury lawsuit in Alabama, Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland. It is essentially the reverse of pure comparative negligence. In this kind of scenario, should the plaintiff be shown to be even partially liable for the injury — even by one percent — they will not be entitled to any damages whatsoever. It is considered both a dated and comparatively rigid negligence theory, which is one of the reasons why it is so rarely employed.

Gross negligence

A person can behave in a negligent manner for a variety of reasons, many of which are simply due to a failure to act properly. In the case of gross negligence, it goes well beyond that, where a person behaved in such an irresponsible or reckless nature as to lead to an injury (or worse). For example, someone who was driving recklessly and got into an accident with you would fall under gross negligence, or if the driver allowed you to use their vehicle without informing you that the vehicle had serious operational issues that could be dangerous. In the case of gross negligence, if the defendant has engaged in such behavior, they may find that compensatory damages are greater than they would be in situations where the negligence is simply inadvertent.

Vicarious liability

This kind of liability manifests in the form of responsibility for another person's negligence. This kind of liability theory encompasses situations where the defendant is considered to be under the responsibility and/or care of someone else, such as an employer or a parent/guardian. This is often done due to either a teenager's inability to be fully responsible for their actions, or an employee's contract that puts the responsibility for their actions while on the job on the shoulders of their employer.

A mixture of contributory and comparative negligence

This kind of situation typically has to do with a claim made to an insurer resulting from a motor vehicle accident. A person may be denied compensation in the even that they contributed to or were at fault for the accident. Though, the insurer may deem that they should receive some level of compensation, but a lower one compared to what you could have gotten. Of course, if the insurer does decide that you should receive only partial or no compensation, you can still appeal that decision. Insurers often have a vested interest in denying claims if they think they have an avenue to do so successfully, even if the claim may have merit.


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