How The Type Of Negligence Factors Into Injury Cases

Posted on: 21 April 2021

For a personal injury lawyer, the fundamental thing they have to prove in most cases is that a defendant was negligent. There are several forms of negligence in American law, and the type matters most of the time. Let's look at the types of negligence and how they factor into claims and lawsuits.

Strict Liability

As the name suggests, this is the strictest form of negligence. In cases involving strict liability, the defendant is 100% on the hook for all damages if they are responsible at all for what happened. Strict liability is focused on known dangerous activities. This covers things like licensed work that involves chemicals or explosives. It also covers incidents involving exotic animals, whether the defendant owns them legally or not. Some states also apply strict liability to certain dog bit cases, usually those where the animal has been documented to have harmed someone before.

Comparative or Contributory Negligence

The majority of incidents in life aren't wholly one-sided, and that applies to many kinds of accidents, too. Comparative negligence requires an insurance adjuster, judge, or jury to look at how both the plaintiff and the defendant might have contributed to what occurred.

Suppose a store's employee left a wet spot unmarked on the floor. At the same time, a person was running and not paying attention. The running person slipped, cracked their head, and sustain skull and neck fractures.

By running, the victim contributed something to the incident. This would factor in, and the victim's liability would be subtracted from the claim. For the sake of the example, suppose the victim was 10% responsible. If they sustained $100,000 worth of damages, they would only receive $90,000 as part of a successful case.

Malice, Wanton Disregard, or Recklessness

You have every right to pursue damages against someone who either willfully harmed you or hurt you by way of disregard for your well-being. Someone who suffered facial injuries because a bar's bouncer punched them, for example, could sue for compensation. They might argue that while their conduct justified being bounced from the bar, it didn't justify assaulting them.

This type of liability ranges from recklessness at the low end to malice at the high end. If a defendant was reckless, that means they meant no harm but should have known their conduct might lead to bad things. Someone showing wanton disregard knew the dangers but persisted anyhow. Malice is when the defendant meant to cause harm and did so.