Negligence is a broad term that encompasses the failure to perform a duty of care, whether intentional or not. Professional negligence can occur in any field where a professional is employed, including engineering, accounting, and law. The effects of negligence are often catastrophic.
Negligence can lead to severe injury or death. For example, if an engineer designs an office building that fails during an earthquake and collapses, all those inside may be killed or seriously injured. If a doctor fails to diagnose a patient’s illness and allows him to die from it, his family may sue for damages. If a lawyer fails to file the paperwork properly with the court and loses his client’s case; as a result, these kinds of mistakes can have devastating consequences on their careers and reputations.
Negligence is not always easy to prove. The standard used when determining negligence is that of a “reasonable person.” If a person in the same situation as the victim would not have made the same mistake as them, this will help prove that they were negligent. In some negligence cases, however, it may be challenging to determine exactly what a reasonable person would do in a particular situation.
The more common types of negligence claims include:
The most common negligence claim is for personal injury resulting from an automobile collision. When someone suffers injuries in an automobile accident caused by someone else’s negligence, they can file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver to recover damages for their losses.
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other health care professional fails to provide competent care to their patient. The failure can be due to the doctor’s negligence, but sometimes it can be due to the patient’s actions or conditions that interfered with the treatment. Examples include surgery performed on the wrong side of the body, surgical instruments left inside a patient after surgery, and prescribing the wrong medication dosage.
Workers’ compensation insurance covers employees injured on the job who cannot work because of their injuries. If someone is injured on the job, and the employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance (or if the employer has inadequate coverage), one may be able to bring a personal injury claim against the employer for the injuries and losses resulting from the workplace accident.
A product is defective if it’s unreasonably dangerous when used as intended or fails to provide adequate warnings about foreseeable dangers associated with its use (called “marketing defects”). If a product injures a person because of its design or manufacture, one may be able to recover damages.
Negligence can be divided into two categories:
Actual or “pure” negligence: This is a failure to exercise ordinary care in circumstances where there is a duty to act with such care. For example, if a driver fails to stop at a red light, they are negligent because they have a duty.
Legal or “comparative” negligence: Comparative negligence is a legal doctrine that allows people who caused their injuries (or those of others) through careless behavior to share responsibility for the damages with other parties. Comparative negligence has been adopted into law in many states as an alternative to absolute liability and contributory negligence.
The idea behind comparative negligence is that it’s impossible to determine precisely what percentage of blame each party should bear for causing an accident; thus, it makes more sense for courts to assign some of the blame for accidents on both sides rather than on just one side all the time.
In professional negligence cases, the plaintiff must prove that:
The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.
This means a duty to exercise reasonable care in providing services to the plaintiff. The extent of this duty depends on the circumstances and the seriousness of the risk posed by their actions.
The defendant breached this duty of care.
This means that they failed to take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of harm occurring or failed to act as a reasonable person would have done in similar circumstances. Most importantly, they did not act by any special standards expected of them by law or society (such as doctors). For example, if a doctor fails to diagnose cancer and treat it properly, they have breached their duty of care to their patient by failing to use reasonable care in diagnosing and treating cancer. This is called negligence.
The breach of duty caused harm (damages) for which compensation should be paid out of money provided by an insurer or other source.
This means that one has suffered some loss because they didn’t take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of harm or failed to act as a reasonable person would have done in similar circumstances. It could be physical injury, psychological injury, or financial loss – for example, having to pay for medical treatment after being injured at work.