Negligence means that someone has a legal duty to care for someone else but they don’t provide the care they are supposed to and the other person is harmed.
A negligent person is careless and, as a result, someone else is injured.
This is a civil matter, not a criminal law issue. If you have been seriously injured because of someone else’s thoughtlessness, please seek the counsel of a trusted personal injury lawyer immediately.
Negligence may occur in many settings
- Medical facilities that care for patients
- Daycare (for children, the disabled, or the elderly)
- Home (caring for children, the sick/disabled, or the elderly)
- On the road in driving situations
- On someone else’s property
In each of these places, certain people have a legal responsibility to do no harm to others and to provide a safe environment or a certain standard of care. If someone doesn’t provide the proper duty of care and someone else is significantly harmed, the injured person may have a personal injury case.
The injured person should seek an experienced personal injury attorney near them as soon as possible.
Note: If an employee is injured at work, this would fall under workers’ compensation laws, regardless of whether an employer or the employee was negligent.
The 4 Elements of a Negligence Case
A victim (plaintiff) bringing a personal injury claim against a defendant for negligence must prove four things:
- The defendant was responsible to provide a duty of care.
- The defendant breached the duty of care.
- The defendant’s actions caused an injury to the plaintiff.
- The injury caused actual harm to the plaintiff.
If the plaintiff cannot prove all four of these elements, then there is not a negligence case. The defendant won’t have to pay damages for the injuries suffered.
However, if the plaintiff can prove all four elements of negligence, then the defendant may be required to pay for the damages suffered including medical bills, lost wages, compensation for pain and suffering, funeral costs, and possibly other damages, as well.
Examples of Negligence:
These are a few examples of types of negligence cases found in personal injury law.
Medical negligence (part of medical malpractice)
- If a patient was not rotated properly and ended up with serious bedsores that resulted in a life-threatening sepsis infection.
- Medical errors by a nurse or pharmacist.
Nursing home neglect
- Not providing adequate meals, hygiene, or medical care.
Nursing home abuse
- If the staff wasn’t preventing other residents or visitors from harming someone when they could have stopped the abuse.
Slip and fall injuries (premises liability)
- If the owner knew there were dangerous conditions on the floor, like a spill, and did not mark it or clean up the area quickly.
- This could happen in many scenarios from medical malpractice, to nursing home neglect, or in a traffic accident where a person dies as a result of injuries caused by another person’s negligence.
A car accident or other traffic accident
- A driver may be negligent by commission. She does something she shouldn’t do like driving through a stop sign, causing an accident and injuries to others.
- A driver may also be negligent by omission. He does something he should not do like driving without headlights on at night, resulting in an avoidable accident and injuries.
If someone was extremely reckless or intentionally malicious, there may be criminal charges, as well. In this case, the defendant may also be responsible to pay punitive damages.
Defense for negligence
Someone accused of negligence will need an experienced attorney to help them navigate the legal system. There are several ways a defendant can win a case.
The plaintiff was also negligent in some significant way that contributed to his or her own injury. Perhaps he didn’t reasonably protect himself from harm. In this situation where both parties are negligent and the plaintiff is responsible for over 50% of the fault, the plaintiff doesn’t receive compensation.
In this situation, both the plaintiff and defendant contributed negligence to some degree. The judge determines the percentage of fault for each party and decides the damages based on the portion caused by the defendant.
Assumption of risk
If a plaintiff freely enters into an express agreement or implied agreement consenting to participate in an activity with inherent risks, she agrees not to hold the defendant liable if she sustains any injuries. In this case, the defendant may not have to pay damages to the plaintiff. The plaintiff was aware of the risks and consented to them.
Failure to prove negligence
If the plaintiff cannot prove all four elements of negligence, the plaintiff has no case and will not be awarded damages.
Do you need a lawyer to help you file a negligence case in South Carolina?
At Burriss and Ridgeway, we have experience with many types of negligence cases. We’d like to offer you a free consultation if you believe that you or a loved one may have suffered harm because of someone else’s carelessness whether it is a medical malpractice claim, a wrongful death action, a car accident, or negligence at a school, daycare, or other institution.
Please contact us today!
We are a personal injury law firm with offices in three convenient locations around the Midlands of South Carolina: Lexington, Orangeburg, and Columbia, South Carolina. Virtual consultations may also be available.