Are you suffering the financial and emotional consequences of another person’s reckless or negligent actions? Then you might be considering legal action. For the successful outcome of any personal injury lawsuit in New Jersey, the civil court will expect you to establish negligence before it can determine liability and adjudicate your documented claims for a monetary award.
You might have questions about how the courts deal with negligence. Is the principle the same for a personal injury involving premises liability, car accidents and medical malpractice?
What constitutes negligence?
People must maintain certain standards, and the community expects individuals to act in a way that any other reasonable person would in similar circumstances, and to exercise reasonable care not to cause harm to anyone. Examples of failure of the duty to take reasonable care include backing out of your driveway without checking and striking a pedestrian. If you fail to maintain safe business premises, the ceiling could fall in and injure a visitor or client, and negligent hiring charges may follow if an employee harms someone.
What is a reasonable standard of care?
Different circumstances require different degrees of care. When determining the expected standard of care by a physician, it would be compared to how other medical professionals would act in similar circumstances. Therefore, the expected standard of care would be higher than in other circumstances such as the duty to clean a wet spill in a grocery store. The situation in which alleged negligence took place will determine the level of care that would be reasonable.
What is necessary to prove the presence of negligence?
There are four conditions that you will have to prove in court — in a specific order. If you cannot do that, the court will likely determine there was no negligence present. You must meet the following conditions:
- Duty: The defendant’s duty to act with reasonable care must be clear.
- Failure: The next thing to prove is his or her failure to fulfill that duty.
- Cause: You must then show that this failure caused the incident.
- Harm: The final condition to prove is that the incident caused harm, which led to quantifiable damages.
It would only be natural for anybody facing charges of negligence in a personal injury civil lawsuit to find a way to defend him or herself. The defendant might claim contributory negligence, which means that you were partly responsible for your injuries.
If, for example, your injury occurred at a ski resort, the defendant might claim you assumed the risk when you purchased your ticket. However, this defense will not be valid if equipment failure caused the injuries. Even if you signed an indemnity agreement, if negligence is present, you will have a viable claim.
Help is available
An experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney can answer any questions you might have. The lawyer can assess the circumstances that led to your injuries, assist with the establishment of negligence, and advocate for you in the courtroom in pursuit of recovery of damages.