One word that personal injury lawyers will use a lot when discussing the reasoning behind a case is negligence. Alongside recklessness and malice, negligence is one of the core arguments a personal injury attorney can make to show a defendant is liable for what happened in a case.
People who are thinking about pursuing claims may be wondering what the legal notion of negligence is. This blog takes a look at that topic from the viewpoint of a personal injury lawyer speaking with a client.
Understanding the Duty of Care
Some situations in life oblige individuals or organizations to make sure others aren't hurt. If an organizer holds a concert and invites tens of thousands of people to pay to attend, for example, the organizer takes on what's called of duty of care. This means they assume a responsibility to take all reasonable steps required to provide a safe environment for the attendees.
Suppose that this hypothetical concert took place on one of the hottest days of the summer. The organizers would have a responsibility to have medical stations in place to treat concertgoers for conditions like sunburns and dehydration. This expectation doesn't exist because there's a law that specifically outlines what the medical facilities at a concert must look like. Instead, it exists because a reasonable person would expect that a few medical events would occur under such circumstances and that assistance should be stationed at the event.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence occurs when a party that has a duty of care fails to hold up its responsibilities to reasonably anticipate and prevent potentially harmful situations and then someone is harmed. Note that if no one is harmed, negligence hasn't legally occurred because the law requires harm in an injury case before it cares about anything else.
Another issue to note is that the defendant's conduct has to be proven to be the proximate cause of what happened. Suppose in the concert hypothetical that lightning struck someone out of the blue on a nice day. It's hard to say that the concert organizers should have reasonably anticipated such a scenario.
Extend the scenario a bit further, though, and there might be causation. For example, suppose the concert's organizers knew for several hours that a storm was coming in and didn't evacuate the event area. Leaving a person exposed to the threat of a storm might be seen as negligent under those different circumstances.
For more information, contact a personal injury lawyer.