Negligence in a personal injury law case is where the defendant is accused of failing to take appropriate precautions or act in a reasonably careful way, and their failure to do so resulted in harm or damage to another person. In California, a personal injury lawyer needs to prove that the defendant had a duty of care to the plaintiff and that they breached that duty because they were negligent. They must also show that it was the negligence that caused or at least played a significant part in causing the plaintiff harm.
Duty of care is when a person has a responsibility (often one that is upheld by the law) to others. Examples of this would be teachers caring for children at school, doctors caring for their patients, or drivers caring for their fellow passengers as well as other drivers and pedestrians on the road. For negligence to be a factor in a personal injury law case, a duty of care must be proven. California law defines “negligence” as the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm to oneself or others.
Res ipsa loquitur is a legal doctrine and is translated from Latin as “the thing speaks for itself.” A personal injury lawyer might use this principle when attempting to prove negligence. It is where the court will presume negligence if the defendant had sole control over the tools or instruments that caused the injury.
To prove that no negligence took place, the defendant will have to convince the court that either there was no duty of care or that the plaintiff acted in a way that caused their own accident or injury. This is sometimes called “contributory” or “comparative” negligence. If a court agrees that the plaintiff did have some responsibility for causing the accident or injuries, they may still offer partial damages.
The defendant may also argue that the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury. This is known as “assumption of risk.” If the court finds this to be true, they agree that the plaintiff willingly took part in activities they knew carried risk. However, even when this is the case, the defendant still may have a duty to exercise reasonable care to ensure injuries do not occur.
If you have been injured or know someone who has been injured in California because of another person’s negligence, you may be able to recover damages. Get in touch with the personal injury lawyers at Karlin & Karlin at 213-365-1555 for a free, confidential consultation to find out how we can help you.