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Understanding the Basics of Personal Injury Law

The legal ramifications surrounding personal injuries can be a confusing thing. There are all sorts of confusing rules and unfamiliar terminology. Lawyers spend years going to school and learning to communicate clearly, but it can still be difficult understanding the intricacies of the process. Sometimes it can help to have a primer that explains the basics of the personal injury lawsuit. One of the most central things to such a lawsuit is the legal concept of negligence. Most personal injury cases involve proving that the victim’s injury resulted from the defendant’s negligence.

What Negligence Means

Negligence is a legal concept that usually must be proved in order for a victim to recover for their injuries. As the name suggests, negligence is about carelessness. The victim must show that there was some careless act by the defendant that caused the victim’s injury. However as with all things legal, it is a little more complicated. There are four things that need to be shown to prove a victim’s negligence: Duty, breach, cause, and harm.

First, the defendant must owe some duty to the injured victim. In general, that duty just means that the defendant has to be reasonably careful not to injure someone that they could foreseeably hurt with their carelessness. The next thing that needs to be shown is that the defendant somehow breached that duty to the defendant. This usually means that the defendant acted in some careless way that did not live up to the level of care that the law requires, often expressed as the care that a “reasonable person” would have used in that situation. The next two things that the victim must show, cause and harm, are closely related. The defendant must show that the defendant’s carelessness caused the injuries that the victim is suing for, If the victim, or more often the victim’s attorney, can prove these four things, then the victim can recover for the plaintiff’s negligence.

Showing a Defendant’s Negligence

Of course, it is one thing to talk about proving these four elements of negligence in a vacuum. It is another to think about how to actually prove them to a jury. In practice, the two most common issues with which there is a difficulty proving are the middle two, breach and cause. With respect to breach, the issue is that it can be a bit of an ill-defined problem. After all, it is hard to figure out exactly how careful a “reasonable person” would be in any given situation. Often, this is up to a jury’s common sense, but they can also use helpful guideposts, such as applicable laws that regulate how careful a person should be, like speed limits. As far as causation goes, the trouble is showing that the defendant’s carelessness actually resulted in the harm. This can be an issue when there were intervening causes or prior injuries, such as a careless driver on a foggy day or a traffic accident causing a back injury when the victim has a history of back pain.

Being injured as a result of someone else’s carelessness can be a life-changing event. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident, contact a Florida personal injury lawyer at Pike & Lustig, LLP today.

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