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Proving Fault in Personal Injury Accidents: General Rules

Proving Fault in Personal Injury Accidents: General Rules
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Determining legal responsibility for an accident or injury can be complicated and often rests on whether someone was careless or “negligent.” While it is easy to claim that the person or business responsible for the accident should pay for the injuries, it is much more difficult to determine who was legally at fault.

Determining Legal Liability

A vast majority of accidents can be attributed to mistakes.

The basic rule to legally define whether a person was negligent or not is if he or she is deemed responsible for at least a portion of the damages suffered by the other party. Legal liability for almost all accidents is determined by this “rule of reasonable care”. Everyone has a duty to act with reasonable case as they go about their daily activities. Additionally, one or more of these qualifications need to be met under the rule:

  • Injuries on private property-Property owners have a duty to keep their property safe for the intended use.
  • If the injured person was also careless, his or her compensation may be reduced by the extent such carelessness was also responsible for the accident. This is known as comparative negligence.
  • If a negligent person causes an accident while working for someone else, the employer may also be legally responsible for the accident.
  • If an accident is caused on a property that is poorly built or maintained, its owner is liable for not maintaining the property, regardless of whether he or she actually created the dangerous environment.
  • If an accident is caused by a defective product, the manufacturer and seller of the product are both liable even if the injured person doesn’t know which one was careless in creating or allowing the defect, or exactly how the defect happened.

Duty of Care

Duty of care is the legal obligation that a person should act toward others and the public with the watchfulness, attention, caution and prudence that a reasonable person in the circumstances would use. If a person’s actions do not meet this standard of care, then the acts are considered negligent, and any damages resulting may be claimed in a lawsuit for negligence. 

Breach of Duty

The next step is for the court to decide whether the defendant breached his/her duty by acting or failing to act in a certain way. In a negligence case, all parties must take “reasonable care” to avoid injuries to others. For example, a bus driver may fail to pay attention while driving and rear-end another vehicle, resulting in a passenger on the bus suffering an injury. The breach of duty in this example is the bus driver who was not paying attention and failed to keep the passengers safe.


The next element required to determine negligence requires the plaintiff to prove that the defendant’s negligence did in fact cause the injury. The court also considers whether the defendant could have reasonably predicted that his or her actions could result in an injury to others.


The last part of a negligence case is assessing the damages. Regardless of how an accident occurred, if the plaintiff shows that he or she was careful and it was the defendant who was negligent, the defendant will be required to pay injury damages. It is mandated that the defendant reimburse the plaintiff for the injuries suffered by way of economic and non-economic damages including loss of earning, medical expense, pain and suffering and permanent injury.

Do You Need Help Proving Negligence?

If you or a loved one has been injured due to another person’s carelessness, contact the Miami personal injury attorneys at Graham Legal, P.A. today.

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