WHAT IS A NEGLIGENCE CASE?
When you look at the lingo and terminology surround personal injury cases, one word keeps popping up again and again—negligence. A negligence case is something that is pretty easy to define, but it takes more to prove it legally in a court. Negligence is the failure of a person to use reasonable care. When this failure results in damage or an injury to another person, then that person can seek restitution through a personal injury lawsuit. Here, the injured party has to prove that the accident was caused by another person’s disregard or carelessness as it pertains to their safety. In order to prove negligence, the injured part has to prove two basic assertions—first that there was a “duty of care” and then that there was a “breach” of that duty by the other party. There are also to other elements that must be proven as well, namely causation and damages.
THE FOUR ELEMENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL NEGLIGENCE CLAIM
The easiest way to explain a negligence lawsuit is to think of it as a four-step process. If the plaintiff (the injured party) can prove all four of these steps, then the chances are good that they will be able to demonstrate that the defendant (the person who allegedly injured the plaintiff) was negligent.
- Duty—The first element that must be proven is whether or not the defendant owed a “duty of care” to the plaintiff. This can include landowners, including landlords who owe a duty of care to those who come on the property, and business owners, who owe a duty of care to those who enter the business, including employees and customers. It also includes drivers who owe a duty of care to those with whom they share the road.
- Breach—The second element that must be proven is that the duty of care was breached by the defendant acting (or failing to act) in a certain way. For instance, if a landlord breaches the duty of care by failing to install handrails on a staircase, then the second element has been met.
- Causation—The third element, causation, is that the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s actions (or inaction) caused the plaintiff’s injury. For instance, the plaintiff in the previous example has to show that the lack of a handrail on a staircase caused the plaintiff to fall down the stairs.
- Damages—The final element of proof is damaging. In this area, the plaintiff must show that he was somehow injured or suffered damage as a result of the defendant’s actions (or inactions). If with the staircase example, the plaintiff fell down the stairs but suffered no injury, then the fourth element has not been proven. However, if the plaintiff broke his or her leg as a result of the fall, then damages have been established.
UNDERSTANDING BREACH OF REASONABLE CARE
The most difficult of the four elements to prove is determining what is considered a true “breach” of care. You must demonstrate that the defendant’s actions failed to meet the required level of reasonable care under the circumstances. (This can also include a defendant’s lack of action. But what exactly is “reasonable care”? This must usually be taken on a case-by-case basis.
At the law firm of Wolf & Pravato, we thoroughly understand the specific regulations, codes, and laws that must be followed by the people and staff working in public places in Florida. As such, we are able to give a professional opinion as to whether these regulations, codes, and laws have been broken or improperly followed and we can help you determine if your particular case involves a breach of reasonable care. Such a breach can lead to serious injuries, and, in the extreme, even death.
The attorneys at Wolf & Pravato have vast experience dealing with a wide range of examples and specialized areas including day care, funeral home, security, and workplace negligence. Other examples of negligence include:
- A property owner who let the railing on his deck fall apart. This person then invited friends over for a barbecue and one of those friends leaned on the deck railing, falling and hurting himself.
- A grocery store owner who mopped the floor and left it slippery without putting up a “Wet Floor” sign. A customer then slipped on the floor and injured his back.
- A store manager who doesn’t hire security for a Black Friday sale and then encourages things to get really out-of-control, resulting in an injury to a customer.
- A doctor who misreads a patient’s chart and performs the wrong operation on a patient (or who even performs the correct surgery on the wrong patient).
- A drug company releases a drug even though the medicine has not been fully tested and all of the known side effects are not fully listed. As a result, patients who take the medicine become sick.
- A truck driver who fell asleep and ran a stop sign, resulting in his truck striking another car.
- A person who owns a dog with a history of aggressive behavior then takes the dog to the park without properly restraining the animal. As a result, the dog bites somebody.
- A funeral home who cremates the wrong body or who loses the ashes of one of the deceased.
- A hotel that failed to provide adequate security allowing an intruder to gain unauthorized access to a guest’s room resulting in the guest being robbed or assaulted.
- A nightclub with a history of violent incidents and fights doesn’t provide additional security to curb this violence. A fight breaks out and bystanders in the bar are injured.
- A preschool doesn’t have anybody monitoring the children who are playing on the playground. During this unsupervised time, a child falls off of the jungle gym and gets a concussion.
Wolf & Pravato has decades of experience representing our clients who have been injured or sustained property damage as a result of the negligence of others. These claims include both workplace incidents and other such cases. Our experienced law firm rises to the challenge of handling complex and unique cases and offers a free consultation to evaluate your case to see if it might meet the four element requirements of a negligence claim. Call today for a FREE consultation.