When you have been injured in an accident as the result of someone else’s actions, there may be a number of legal theories to support a claim for damages. Most personal injury lawsuits, however, are based on a legal theory of negligence. There are three elements to such a claim in personal injury lawsuits:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care, i.e., to act in a certain way, and failed to meet that standard of care
- The defendant’s failure to meet the standard of care caused your injury
- You suffered actual loss as a result of the injury
This blog addresses the standard of care in a personal injury claim based on negligence.
The Standard of Care
The laws governing negligence have evolved through what is known as the “common law,” law derived from opinions handed down by judges over centuries. Under the common law of negligence, all persons in society have a duty to maintain a certain standard of care in all activities, so that their actions don’t unreasonably exposes others to risk of harm or injury. So, regardless of what you are doing—driving a motor vehicle, designing or manufacturing a product, caring for a resident in a nursing home, maintaining a residential or commercial building—you have a duty to act as a reasonable person would. If you don’t and someone is injured, you may be held liable for your actions.
So how does the law define “reasonable? For all practical purposes, it doesn’t. The determination of what is “reasonable” is made on a case-by-case basis by the jury. The courts have attempted to provide some guidance with respect to what constitutes “reasonable” care, equating it with “an average person of ordinary prudence.” Accordingly, in order to succeed in a personal injury claim, you must first show that the defendant breached a duty at exercise reasonable care. Once you’ve done that, you must show that the requirements of causation have been met.
Contact Our Office
If you or someone you love has suffered needless injury because of the careless or negligent acts of another person, we can help protect your rights. For a private meeting with experienced personal injury attorneys, contact us online or call our offices, in New Brunswick at 732-247-3600 or in Somerville at 908-448-2560.