Being injured in an accident creates a singular pinch in time. A point that separates your life before and your lie after. This point can be a place that people fixate on or block from their minds. As a matter of law, what happens at that point gets rehashed many times. The most unfortunate aspect of this, for an injured party, is the role of negligence. Understanding the different types of negligence can help you brace for the questions that arise in such a proceeding.
The different types of negligence come into play when placing fault on one or another party. It is essential in some states to divvy up the fault in percentages to each involved party.
Read on to learn more about the concept of negligence and how it affects a damages claim.
Negligence and Fault
Negligence is a type of fault but not all fault is negligent. To put it more simply, negligence is accidental or unintentional fault. A person setting out to create harm would be intentional fault.
Negligence defines behaviors that create a potential for damage. These can be limited to three basic precepts: duty of care, breach of duty, and injuries.
A person is negligent in their duty of care when they have a reasonable expectation or responsibility to limit harm. This is something like a parent or guardian for a child or a bus driver to passengers.
Once a duty is established, the breach of that duty gets evaluated. This occurs when taking actions that limit or impede the duty. but are not intentionally harmful. Forgetting to service a vehicle is negligent, tampering with it is wilful.
Finally, after establishing a breach, it is time to evaluate injuries and the connection to those injuries. A pre-existing condition or propensity for an issue is ignored. For example, a person that has a congenital heart defect isn’t considered harmed by negligence if the defect gets discovered after the accident, it already existed.
Types of Negligence
With that basic understanding of how negligence, as a term, is defined you can now look at types of negligence. These further define and limit the responsibilities placed on each party in terms of duty and the subsequent breach of that duty.
The most commonly referred to type of negligence is comparative. In comparative negligence, the fault is placed to varying portions of two or more parties.
As the name suggests, a comparison gets made to the negligence of several individuals. Courts establish a degree of fault for each party and damages are awarded accordingly.
A place that this comes up often is in traffic collisions. It is possible for several parties to split the cost of repairs when each motorist takes inappropriate action.
Not all states deal with comparative negligence. Florida is one that does and covers this under section 768.81.
Even if only one party is injured, they may be partially held negligent. Different states also have different maximums by which damagers are reduced. Establishing partial negligence on the part of the injured party is a common defense tactic.
This closely related type of negligence deals with actions taken by an injured party. Effectively, contributory negligence is established for comparative negligence to come into play. After all, you need to know there was a contribution before that contribution can be compared.
While distinct, many people get confused discussing comparative negligence vs contributory negligence for this reason.
An easy way to think of contributory is that it can take place before, during, or after an accident. Comparative negligence only matters in the aftermath.
So, a person can be considered contributory if they were drunk while driving or if they refuse medical care after an accident. In both cases, the willful actions of the person lead to injury but that injury remains a product of the accident caused by someone else.
This next type of negligence makes more direct sense legally but can be rough conceptually.
Vicarious negligence occurs when a person should have taken responsibility for the actions of another party. Not properly training or restraining a pet that bites someone is a form of vicarious negligence. You didn’t cause the harm, but the harm came from an animal in your charge.
This also applies to damages caused by minors or employees working under direction from an employer.
For cases where a person is deemed to be wholly responsible but it is still negligence and not an intentional fault, gross negligence is used.
The most common occurrence of gross negligence is in medical malpractice cases. When hospital staff doesn’t follow protocol and their lax in judgment creates an injury, that is gross negligence.
They didn’t intend the harm but are entirely the reason the harm occurred.
Negligence Per Se
This type of negligence comes defines when a person violates a law, whether intentionally or unknowingly, and that violation creates harm.
Drunk driving, driving while texting, or running a red light are all legal violations that can lead to an accident. Whether or not a person texting hits a car or is hit by a car, they are still negligent per se as they were doing something illegal.
Driving without a license or an expired license also falls into this category. In these cases, a comparative negligence state would quickly reduce damage awards even if none of the actions taken otherwise risked harm.
If you’ve been in an accident or an incident that resulted in injury, it’s important to know the types of negligence. contacting an attorney quickly can help you to avoid issues of contributory negligence or et in for font of vicarious negligence.
Contact us for more information on these topics and find out what we can do to help you with your legal concerns.