If you feel as if you’ve been wronged and someone else is to blame, you may be able to file for negligence. To claim negligence in a court of law, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed them a duty of care and did not fulfill that duty.
To fully understand what these laws mean in Pennsylvania, you need to understand the critical terms affiliated with these types of cases. A Philadelphia personal injury attorney can help you navigate the complexities of a negligence case.
What is Duty of Care ?
The phrase duty of care means that a person or entity owes another person or entity a reasonable amount of responsibility. A duty is a legal obligation for one person (or entity) to keep another person safe and unharmed.
For example, a motorist owes a duty of care to other motorists, passengers, bike riders, pedestrians, and anyone else on the road. A home- or land-owner who rents or lets their property owes a duty to their tenants. Doctors owe their patients a duty to treat them to the best of the doctors’ abilities and to not harm them intentionally.
To prove negligence, you must first prove that the doctor, motorist, employer, or other plaintiff owed a duty to you.
What is Breach of Duty ?
Once you claim and prove a duty of care in the state of Pennsylvania, you must then prove that there has been a breach of this duty and that this breach resulted in harm, damage, or pain. When a person does not fulfill their obligation to another, a breach has occurred.
Some determinants that factor in whether a duty is breached include:
- If the breach was foreseeable
- If there were any safer alternatives
- How burdensome or costly those alternatives were
How do I Prove Cause ?
After proving the duty and breach, you then must prove that your suffering stemmed directly from the breach.
For instance, if a surgeon leaves surgical tools inside a surgical patient and the patient develops an infection, it must be proven that the tools and the surgeon’s negligence directly resulted in the patient’s suffering.
How do I Prove Harm ?
The last piece to put into place is if you were harmed in the breach of duty. If you did not suffer any injury or damage from the defendant’s actions or inactions, you cannot file a suit or claim for negligence.
What is Comparative vs. Contributory Negligence?
There are two different types of negligence – contributory or comparative. Pennsylvania is a comparative negligence state, which means that if you win your case or claim, you are compensated according to the amount of the damage that was not your fault.
For instance, if you are found to be 10% at fault in a car accident, and your award is $10,000, you can only receive $9,000.
There are two subcategories of the general comparative negligence laws – modified and pure. In a pure comparative negligence state, a plaintiff can be almost totally at fault but still awarded damages. A modified comparative state allows damages up to a certain point – 50%. After that, the plaintiff forfeits all damages.
Pennsylvania is a modified comparative negligence state.
What Are Some Examples of Negligence ?
The effects of negligence can be emotional or physical.
When a plaintiff claims emotional distress, it means that the trauma or action has caused fright, horror, anxiety, depression, shock, or humiliation. To claim negligence due to emotional distress, you do not have to suffer physical injuries.
In some cases, an employer can be held responsible for an employee hurting another employee. This applies if the employer was aware of the risks that the employee posed when that person was hired.
If the plaintiff was harmed by a motor vehicle that was not owned by the driver, the actual owner of the car may be held responsible for any injuries, as they entrusted their motor vehicle to the driver.
Hire an Injury Lawyer if You were Involved in a Accident due to Negligence
If you’ve been involved in an accident in Philadelphia and believe you may be due compensation because of negligence, consult a personal injury lawyer. Our professionals at the Law Offices of Joel J. Kofsky can help you sort through the details.
Usually, cases involving negligence are stressful and possibly painful. If you’re recovering from an accident or injury, you may not be able to assess your legal standpoint. At The Law Offices of Joel J. Kofsky, it’s our business to get you what you deserve. Call us today at (215) 735-4800 or email us to start on your journey to recovery.