What is Accident Negligence?
From expensive medical bills to emotional trauma, accidents caused by negligence have a profound, stressful effect on your life. Though legal action may be daunting, it’s important to seek fair compensation for your suffering when appropriate.
However, you’ll first need to prove negligence. To learn more about your personal injury claim, contact our Phoenix personal injury attorneys at the ELG. Our team of personal injury lawyers is here to help with a free consultation for legal aid.
Comparative negligence effectively functions as a partial defense when a plaintiff bears partial responsibility for a personal injury. In a pedestrian accident, the driver is usually at fault due to speeding and inherently having a duty of care to avoid hitting pedestrians. However, comparative negligence laws may implicate the pedestrian as partially liable.
Most states follow modified comparative negligence statutes that bar recovery if a plaintiff’s fault exceeds that of a defendant. If the plaintiff is 50% or more at fault, he or she may not recover damages. In a pure comparative negligence state, the plaintiff can still recover a fraction of damages even if he or she is 99% at fault for the claimed damages. However, a plaintiff with such a high fault percentage would likely refrain from taking legal action in the first place or face a counter-claim from the defendant.
Contributory negligence statutes are less common in the United States and offer very little protection for plaintiffs who may bear even slight responsibility for their personal injuries. Under the doctrine of contributory negligence, a plaintiff cannot seek recovery if he or she in any way contributed to the damages in the claim, however slight.
When a defendant’s behavior exceeds the scope of inadvertence or typical negligence he or she may qualify as grossly negligent in a personal injury lawsuit. For example, a driver who runs a red light because of distraction with a cell phone would likely constitute negligence. A drunk driver with a history of several DUIs speeding while consuming alcohol from an open container clearly has no regard for the safety of others. Therefore, that driver would qualify as grossly negligent should their actions lead to injuries. Gross negligence may also constitute criminal negligence. In this case, it opens the defendant to criminal charges from the state in addition to civil liability.
Proving Breach of Duty and Causation
The first step in your negligence claim is determining whether the defendant owed you a legal duty of care. For example, a motorist has a legal duty to drive safely and follow the state’s traffic laws. Another example is a professional obligation where a defendant has a duty to a plaintiff, like a doctor-patient relationship.
Once you’ve established that the defendant had an obligation to ensure your safety as the plaintiff in some way, you will have to prove that they breached this duty. This requires you to show a reasonable individual in the same situation would have behaved differently than the defendant and reached an outcome not resulting in your injury.
Again, a driver has an obligation to operate their vehicle in a manner that promotes the safety of others on the roadway. Driving recklessly in Arizona or while impaired, for example, breaches this duty and is also against the law.
However, it’s not enough to show a breach of duty. The next step is proving that your injury was caused by the defendant’s negligence. This means that you’ll have to produce evidence showing the defendant’s actions or inactions resulted in your injury. In these claims, there are two types of causation: Cause and Proximate Cause. A cause is applicable if the defendant’s actions were a direct cause of the plaintiff’s injury.
Filing for Damages After Negligence
The final step is proving actual damages. This damages will comprise any expenses directly related to the defendant’s action or inaction, including medical expenses or property damage.
To file a personal injury claim, list a monetary value that the court can utilize to compensate for your loss. Furthermore, you must remember that the statute of limitations for injury in Arizona is two years, so you have two years from the date of your injury to file and prove your case.
Personal Injury Attorney in Phoenix
Most importantly, contact an attorney if you’ve been injured and have questions about filing a personal injury claim. A lawyer can help you organize the facts of your case and explore your legal options.
Contact our Phoenix personal injury lawyers at ELG today at (623) 877-3600 for a free, no-hassle consultation.