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Legal Question: What is Negligence?

When faced with a situation where you believe that you or a loved one has been a victim of negligence, you might be left with a lot of questions. Maybe it is unclear if the outcome was caused by chance or negligence. You might wonder what exactly the term “negligence” means and what specific behaviors might constitute grounds for a lawsuit. If you feel that negligence could have resulted in a negative, life-altering result for you or a loved one, we have answers to some of the questions you might have about filing a lawsuit.

What is Negligence?

Negligence refers to a person’s failure to follow a duty of conduct imposed by law. Every person is under a duty to use ordinary care to protect himself and others from injury. Ordinary care means that degree of care which a reasonable and prudent person would use under the same or similar circumstances to protect himself and others from injury. A person’s failure to use ordinary care is negligence.

What Constitutes Negligence?

There are four elements that must be present in a negligence case. First, the defendant must have owed a legal duty to the plaintiff. For example, an operator of a motor vehicle has the duty to use reasonable care in the operation of the motor vehicle and to obey all laws dealing with the operation of a motor vehicle. Thirdly, this breach of legal duty must cause the plaintiff to suffer an injury or suffer a damage. Finally, there must be proof that the defendant’s breach of legal duty was a direct cause of the plaintiff’s injury or damage.

What is Considered an Injury?

The injury component is a major part of proving negligence, so what exactly is considered an injury or damage? Obviously, bodily harm is a common outcome of negligence, but it is not the only thing that may be considered in a case. Even if you are not physically harmed, emotional harm might be taken into consideration if it was intentionally caused. In addition to bodily harm, property damage and economic damages such as loss of income will also constitute damages compensable by law.

If you believe that you or a loved one have been a victim of negligence, contact the law offices of Kelly & West to find out more.


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Personal injury is a fancy way of saying you got hurt — and it’s something someone else caused or could have prevented. Accidents happen every single day, but if you get hurt in one, you may feel concerned or worried about paying for your medical bills or time you missed from work. That’s why people may choose to file a personal injury claim, a way of seeking monetary benefits for an injury caused by another person or company. 

personal injury termsIn 2017 alone, Nationwide insurance company paid $18.7 billion in claims to its members. Here are the top personal injury claims that affect most people:

Car Accidents

Yearly, there is estimated to be more than 6 million vehicle-related accidents in the United States. While this number is only increasing, drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists are in danger. Distractions such as smartphones, navigation systems or car-related functions might be the reason. Regardless, if you have been injured in an accident that was not your fault, you may be eligible for compensation. Make it a priority always to always visit a doctor after an accident, even if you feel fine. There are many cases where victims did not suffer physical injuries but sustained many internal injuries.

Slip and Fall

Slip and fall claims are a common personal injury claim. A slip and fall can occur anywhere, at work, home, in a restaurant. Elderly people are more likely to sustain a severe injury after a fall. Damage to the hip, head, back, and neck are very common. It may be difficult to prove a slip and fall claim. Contacting a lawyer after a slip and fall incident is crucial.

Product Liability

There is an average of 20,000 product liability claims that are filed in the United States each year alone. Many cases of product liability claims are defective toys, dangerous pet products, unsafe medical devices. Product liability typically has one of the highest average compensation values.

Workplace-Related Injuries

Have you fallen on the job? Work-related injuries are very common and can happen to anyone. Work-related injuries are often unreported due to fear of termination, but that means someone else may get hurt later in the same way. If you have been injured at work, report it immediately and contact a lawyer.

Medical Negligence

Medical negligence is another very commontype of personal injury claim. Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare provider doesn’t meet an adequate level of standard care required for a patient. This malpractice causes injury or harm as a result. There are many ways to prove medical negligence has occurred. Some examples are, failing to tell a patient of known risks, failure to diagnose, doctors negligence caused the injury and improper treatment was administered. Medical negligence is among one of the hardest and complex claims to prove and win; it requires many witnesses that must be willing to testify. However, that shouldn’t scare you off if you feel something wasn’t right with your medical care.

If you have questions about a personal injury, contact us for a free consultation.