The concept of negligence is really a foundational one for personal injury law. In many cases, it’s the basis upon which injured parties are able to recover personal injury damages from at-fault individuals. But how is negligence defined? Simply put, negligence is a failure to behave in a way that comports with the actions of a “reasonable person” under the same set of circumstance. Negligence often include actions but may also include acts of omission.
The difference, however, between a simple accident (due to vehicle malfunction, for instance) and an act of negligence is something called “standard of care” or “duty of care.” Standard of care is commonly understood as the level of care or responsiveness or attentiveness a reasonable person would provide in the same situation, whatever that is.
For instance, a reasonable person driving on the roadways is expected to have their attention tuned to the roads and road conditions for their own safety and the safety of others. However, a driver whose attention is split between the road and a smartphone is failing to provide the standard of care to other drivers and pedestrians on the roads. As such, should that driver hit a pedestrian while browsing their smartphone, they could be liable for personal injury damages based on negligence and failure to provide the standard of care while behind the wheel.
When deciding fault in negligence cases, juries consider whether the defendant owes a duty of care to the plaintiff in the circumstances surrounding the accident in question. It’s important, then, to know just what the defendant understood the situation they encountered to be at the time of the accident.
For instance, if a worker on a construction site understands that a sidewalk near adjacent to the site is accessible by foot traffic, and yet he or she carelessly tosses bricks from a scaffolding above, he would likely be considered negligent should injuries result because of his failure to practice care in light of the knowledge that pedestrians were within close range of the work site where we was tossing bricks.
However, should the walkway adjacent to the scaffolding be blocked off with clear, visible signage that the street was blocked to foot traffic due to construction, and the worker tossed brick down understanding that people were not allowed to access that space, yet a man ignores the signage and walks around the construction barriers and is ultimately injured by falling bricks, juries could find the defendant(s) was not indeed negligent because they had no duty of care to an individual they were not aware had trespassed onto the construction site.
It’s important to understand that the proving of negligence also hinges on what a reasonable person might do under the same conditions as those in the accident in question, but also what knowledge that individual had about the circumstances at hand. These can all be factors in proving negligence and winning compensation for personal injury damages when standard of care is breached.
If you’re looking for a Chicago personal injury lawyer who is always accessible and attentive to your needs as a client, call Bizzieri Law Office in Chicago at 773.881.9000. We work hard to recover the highest award damages in your case and we don’t get paid unless we recover compensation for you in your case.