The Different Types of Negligence in Dallas Personal Injury Claims
Negligence, which means something like ‘carelessness’, is the basis of most personal injury claims in Dallas, TX. In other words, most personal injury claims arise because someone injured someone else through carelessness.
That might mean driving too fast, performing substandard surgery on a medical patient, or creating a faulty and dangerous product design. The word ‘negligence’ is used in several different ways, the most common of which are explained below.
The Elements of a Standard Negligence Claim
To prove someone liable for negligence, you need to prove the following facts:
- They owed you a duty of care.
- They breached their duty of care.
- You suffered a physical injury (you might have suffered other types of harm as well).
- Their breach of duty actually caused the harm you suffered.
- The harm you suffered was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of their breach of duty.
If you can prove every one of these facts, you can win your negligence claim. You don’t have to prove these facts ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’–that is the standard for a criminal prosecution.
All you need to do is to prove your case by ‘a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, you just need your evidence to suggest that your version of events is more likely than not to be true.
Comparative negligence applies when at least two parties share blame for the victim’s injury. Typically, the victim bears partial responsibility for their own negligence. The victim might have slipped and fallen on the defendant’s greasy floor while intoxicated on alcohol, for example.
In Texas, a court will assign you a percentage of fault –10%, for example, and then deduct that same percentage from your damages. If your percentage of fault exceeds 50%, however, you will receive nothing per state law.
Most states apply some form of comparative negligence when more than one party is at fault for an accident. Not every state does, however. Alabama, the District of Columbia (most of the time), Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia all apply contributory negligence.
What that means is that if you were even one percent at fault for an accident that injured you, you receive nothing. Be careful when driving in these jurisdictions.
Negligence Per Se
Negligence per se is a legal concept that arises when someone breaks a safety law and thereby causes you to suffer the type of injury that the safety law was designed to prevent. Maybe they drove the wrong way on a one-way street and thereby caused a car accident that injured you.
Negligence per se asserts that this violation of a safety law is automatically negligence. It doesn’t establish financial liability all by itself, because negligence alone is not enough to establish liability–you also need to prove damages and causation.
Nonetheless, negligence per se operates as a shortcut for you to prove that the defendant was negligent. This will help you win your claim.
In everyday conversation, you might refer to ‘gross negligence’ as ‘extreme carelessness.’ The main legal use of gross negligence is to justify punitive damages. If you can prove that the defendant’s conduct amounted to gross negligence, a court might award you punitive damages, which is an additional amount beyond the normal compensation that a court might award you.
Please keep in mind, however, that there is never any guarantee of punitive damages.
“Respondeat superior” is a fancy-sounding legal term that literally means “let the master answer.” Personal injury victims use it to hold an employer liable for the misconduct of their employees. For this to happen, the employee’s misconduct must have occurred during the course of their employment duties.
If you are unjustly beaten by a bouncer in a bar, for example, you can probably sue the bar. If the fight occurred outside the bar, even if the bouncer was on the clock, you might have to sue the bouncer instead.
Consult With an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer To Help With Your Negligence Claim
Personal injury lawyers don’t charge by billable hours-–they charge a contingency fee. That means they charge you a certain percentage of whatever amount they manage to win for you. If they lose, you owe nothing in attorney’s fees.
This incentive structure is how you can know that if a personal injury lawyer agrees to represent you, they believe that they can win your claim.