In personal injury claims, the notion of negligence is of central importance. This is because the determination of negligence decides which party was at fault in causing the incident that led to the injuries. In any personal injury claims, one or more parties may be held negligent. When that happens, the comparative fault laws of South Carolina come into play.
When you file a claim for personal injury, you are legally obliged to prove that the other party is guilty of negligence. This is done by satisfying four elements of negligence. These include:
- Duty of Care
- Breach of Duty of Care
What is Duty of Care?
In legal terms, a duty of care is a legal obligation that one party has towards the other. A driver who is on the road, for instance, is legally obligated to drive in a safe and careful manner in order to avoid harm to others on the road. Similarly, a superstore with stacks of products is legally obligated to ensure the products are stored in a safe manner in order to avoid injury to the people nearby. In this way, the duty of care may be defined variously depending on the circumstances.
Breach of Duty of Care
When a party fails to fulfill its legal obligation to act with reasonable care and causes an injury, this constitutes a breach of duty of care relevant to personal injury claims. To use the examples from above, a driver who speeds, runs a red light, or drives under the influence and then causes an accident is guilty of a breach of duty of care. When an aisle of unsafely stacked products tips over and hurts a customer, the superstore fails to fulfill its duty of care.
An important thing to consider when proving such a breach is ‘reasonable care.’ Any party that owes a duty of care to another party is responsible for exercising this duty to a reasonable degree. In determining what is reasonable in a given situation, a court may consider what another person or entity would do in the same situation.
For instance, if products from an aisle tip over and fall onto a customer in a supermarket, it will be considered whether other superstores use better practices to avoid such an event. If they do, the supermarket failed to uphold that standard and fell short of it. It can then be concluded that the supermarket was guilty of a breach of duty of care.
When you are seeking damages in a personal injury case such as a car crash, you must also prove causation between the breach of duty of care and the accident. Simply put, a direct relationship must exist between the two. If a driver runs a red light, he is guilty of a traffic offense. However, he can’t be held liable in a personal injury claim until it can be shown that his act directly contributed to the accident. If the driver ran a red light and just then hit another vehicle in the intersection, causation can be established. In this case, the driver’s breach of duty directly led to the accident.
A final element of proving negligence is to show that you suffered actual damages in the personal injury incident. This can be shown by proving with evidence any bodily injuries you suffered, or damage to your property such as a vehicle. Without damages, you can’t prove negligence and your claim will be turned down.
Other Things to Consider
The actual nature of negligence varies from one case to another. So you will need proper legal help to prove negligence and ensure that you receive the compensatory damages you deserve. Here are some additional things to consider when proving negligence in a personal injury claim:
- An employer may be held negligent for an employee who causes a personal injury in the line of work.
- When a defective product causes an injury, the manufacturer, retailer, or marketer of the product can be held liable for negligence.
- When a personal injury occurs due to some circumstance on a property, the owner of the property may be considered responsible.
- When you are also negligent in an accident that resulted in your injuries, you can still recover damages as long as your fault was below 51%. This is stipulated in South Carolina’s comparative negligence rule.
Hiring a Reliable Personal Injury Lawyer in Greenwood, SC
If you live in Greenwood, SC, and have suffered a personal injury, we can help you recover a fair amount of damages. Here at ASB Law Firm, our aim is to ensure you get the maximum compensation for your losses. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our expert attorneys.