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Barber Law

Figuring out negligence in a personal injury case

Obtaining legal compensation can play a major role in setting off the losses you suffer due to your injuries. However, to succeed in your claim, you will need to prove all the elements of your case, including negligence.

While negligence is a common term many people use in day-to-day speech, in a legal context, this word has a specific meaning. When a plaintiff claims the defendant acted negligently, he or she will have to prove the elements that add up to legal negligence rather than general carelessness.

Duty of care

Generally, negligence occurs when the defendant owes the plaintiff a duty of care and breaches it, which causes damage such as injury or property loss. On a basic level, anyone engaging in an activity owes others a duty of care to do so with reasonable safety. For drivers, this can mean obeying traffic rules, staying alert and acting with common sense to avoid hazards. For a doctor, this can mean practicing in accordance with professional and specialty standards.

Relevant safety laws and rules

Many rules and regulations exist that aim to increase safety and prevent foreseeable injuries. Some examples are traffic rules, hazardous materials regulations and dram shop laws. Proving the defendant violated a relevant law in causing the injury can certainly strengthen a plaintiff's case.

Reasonable conduct

However, one can act negligently without breaking a specific law. Failing to use a normal level of good judgment in a given situation can be a negligenct act. Determining whether someone acted negligently depends a great deal on the specific facts.

When multiple parties act negligently

In some cases, several parties may have negligently contributed to causing the damage. For example, a car crash can happen because of a negligent driver. However, other contributing factors may include yet a third negligent driver, a municipality that fails to repair roads, a construction crew that leaves debris around or a car manufacturer that provided faulty brakes.

Sometimes, everyone involved in the situation acted negligently to some extent. Kentucky's pure comparative negligence approach allows a negligent party to recover after substracting the percentage of his or her fault from the total award. For instance, if the jury finds that you suffered $100,000 worth of damages but were 60 percent at fault, you can receive a total of $40,000.

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