New York City Personal Injury Law Blog

What is “Negligence” in a Personal Injury Case in New York?

Posted on Aug 18, 2015 in Legal Terminology, Personal Injury FAQs

“Negligence” is one of the grounds on which a personal injury case can rest. So it is imperative that you understand what “negligence” means and how it can affect the outcome of your case. In a nutshell, negligence means an act of carelessness that can lead to an accident that many injure another person for no fault of his. However, in the context of a personal injury case, negligence has subtle nuances and wider implications.

The following is some basic information about the clause “negligence” in a personal injury case in New York:

What is “Duty of Care” in a Negligence Claim?

"Negligence" cannot be used in cases where inherent risks exist

“Negligence” cannot be used in cases where inherent risks exist.

The concept of “duty of care” is firmly implied within the negligence claim. Person A cannot be held liable for the injuries of person B if protecting B did not constitute his “duty of care.” For instance, if person B is at a place where he is not supposed to be when the accident occurs, like within the premises of a production facility that he is not authorized to enter, then it is not A’s duty of care to protect B. In this case, A cannot be held liable for B’s damages.

So if you intend to file a person injury case, you have to also prove that you had rightful business to be where you were at the time of the accident and were doing what you were authorized to do. When you prove this, you can press charges against someone for breaching the “duty of care” clause and being negligent.

What does Exercising “Reasonable Care” Mean in a Negligence Claim?

A claim of negligence also implies that the person did not exercise reasonable care while dispensing his duties, which led to the injury of another person. Exercising reasonable care means that a person has been reasonably careful while dispensing his duties and so, cannot be held accountable for the injuries of another person that may have occurred while he was performing his duties. This standard, however, varies depending on circumstances.

For instance, a basketball player accidentally hits a spectator sitting in the stands while passing the ball to his teammate and injures him (the spectator). But passing the ball is a part of the game, and it can be assumed that the player had exercised reasonable care when throwing the ball. In this case, he cannot be held accountable for the spectator’s injuries. In fact, many people may say the spectator should have been paying more attention!

On the other hand, the player may throw the ball at the spectator in a fit of rage and injure him. This constitutes a breach of the reasonable care clause because exhibiting anger by throwing balls around is not part of the normal game and the spectator is not part of the game but a spectator.

Who is at “Fault” in a Negligence Case?

Apart from the person who has injured you by not following his standard “duty of care” responsibly or by not exercising “reasonable care,” his employer, if he was acting as part of his job duties and/or during business hours, can also be held at “fault” for your injuries. In cases of accidents that have occurred on dangerous properties, the owner of the premises can be held accountable while the sellers of a defective product are also at “fault” like the manufacturer.

Knowing the implications of these various concepts inherent in the term “negligence” in a personal injury case in New York will help you put together an airtight case.

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