What is Negligence? Ohio Personal Injury Attorneys Explain the Basics

March 27, 2015

On this blog, we talk a lot about negligence.  Whether discussing medical malpractice, motor vehicle accidents, nursing home injuries, or most any other personal injury topic, we are really just talking about a specific variety of the same thing: negligence. Ohio personal injury law allows injured victims to recover compensation when their injuries were caused by someone—a driver, a doctor, or perhaps even a business—who was negligent.   To prove a negligence claim, though, a plaintiff will have to prove each element of his or her negligence case against the defendant.

The first element that must be proven in a negligence case is that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care.  This duty will vary depending on the circumstances—a doctor owes his patient a different duty of care than a property owner owes his mailman or a truck driver owes other motorists.  Suffice it to say that in almost any instance of human interaction the individuals involved owe each other at least some duty of care.

The second element that must be proven is that the defendant breached his or her duty of care owed to the plaintiff.  In other words, their duty required them to not do (or do) something, and they failed in that requirement.

The third element that must be proven is that the defendant’s breach of the duty of care caused the plaintiff’s injury.  If a plaintiff is injured, he cannot simply recover from any individual who was acting negligently at the time.  He must prove to the jury or judge that his injury would not have occurred but for the defendant’s negligence, and that the defendant should have expected that his negligence might lead to injury.

The fourth element that must be proven is that the defendant caused specific harm to the plaintiff.  Contrary to the media’s portrayal, personal injury law does not allow uninjured people to play the victim.  Actual harm must have occurred; otherwise the courts abide by the maxim, “No harm, no foul.”

Remember that these are just the basics of the concept of negligence.  Each of these elements can be further broken down, picked apart, and differentiated based on the particular facts and circumstances of your case.  Because of the complexity involved in a personal injury lawsuit, those injured by someone else’s negligence should always consult an experienced Ohio personal injury lawyer.

If you or a loved one were injured as the result of negligence, contact the trial attorneys at Lowe Scott Fisher Co., LPA for a free consultation.

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