What Are the Different Types of Negligence?
Negligence is a central concept in every personal injury lawsuit. It’s crucial to not only understand the definition of negligence as it pertains to a personal injury case, but also the state’s laws and how they will influence the outcome of the case. Different states adhere to different negligence laws, so be sure to know the different types of negligence and which will apply in your case if you expect to go through a Sacramento personal injury lawsuit in the near future.
The concept of contributory negligence revolves around a plaintiff’s “contribution” to his or her own damages. If a plaintiff bears some of the faults for the accident for which the plaintiff files a personal injury lawsuit, contributory negligence laws may bar recovery. Some states follow a contributory negligence law that bars recovery if the plaintiff is as little as 1% at fault for the damages in questions. However, most states have adopted comparative negligence laws in lieu of the “all or nothing” options contributory negligence laws afford plaintiffs.
Under comparative negligence law, a plaintiff may still recover damages even if he or she is partially at fault for the damages in question. Under a pure comparative negligence law, a plaintiff can recover compensation even if he or she is 99% at fault for the damages. The plaintiff loses a percentage of the case award equal to his or her percentage of fault.
For example, in a $100,000 case for which the plaintiff is 60% at fault, the plaintiff would lose 60% of the case award for a final total of $40,000. Depending on how much it would cost the plaintiff to file the claim, it may not be worth it for a plaintiff to file a lawsuit if he or she would absorb most of the fault for the claimed damages.
Modified comparative negligence laws are a bit more reasonable and encourage plaintiffs to file cases with merit instead of pursuing frivolous lawsuits. A plaintiff may still recover damages if he or she is partially at fault for those damages, but only if his or her percentage of fault is less than the defendants. If the plaintiff is 51% or more at fault, he or she cannot recover damages. In cases involving multiple defendants, each defendant would receive a fault percentage and the plaintiff’s fault percentage must be less than the fault of each of the defendants’ to recover damages. For example, if a plaintiff was 40% at fault in a case with two defendants each found 30% at fault, the plaintiff would not be eligible to recover damages.
In some cases, a business, organization, employer, or company may be liable for the actions of an employee or the people under their supervision. Vicarious liability also applies to owners of dogs who attack people. The dog owner will face liability for the attack or dog bite even though he or she did not personally harm the victim. If a plaintiff can prove that a company, employer, or other entity bears responsibility for the negligent actions of an employee or similar party, the plaintiff may be able to claim vicarious liability.
“Negligence” is the failure to meet a reasonable duty of care for a given situation, but this may not apply to everyone all the time. Some types of negligence are avoidable with proper training and experience, but not everyone will possess the necessary skills to avoid negligence in some cases. The term “gross negligence” applies to actions that are so obviously wrong that even untrained, average people could avoid them. For example, a surgeon who amputates the wrong limb after reading an x-ray backward would be liable for gross negligence since even an untrained person could have spotted the error. The term can also apply to complete lack of concern for the safety and welfare of others.
It’s important to understand your state’s negligence laws before filing any type of personal injury claim. If you share some of the faults in your claim, it could bar you from recovery or cost more to handle the claim that you would receive in a settlement or case award. Speak to experienced Sacramento personal injury attorney Eric Ratinoff for expert legal advice.