If you have been injured in a serious personal injury accident caused by someone else, you may be wondering if you have a claim to compensation. Under Alabama law, victims of personal injury accidents have a right to sue the person whose negligence caused their injuries for damages. In Alabama, a plaintiff who brings personal injury lawsuits can obtain damages for their medical expenses, loss of income, property damage, and pain and suffering. To obtain compensation for your personal injury accident, you will need to prove that the defendant acted negligently. We will examine what negligence means and how to prove that the defendant acted negligently below.
The Definition of Negligence
The concept of negligence is a legal idea passed down by common law for hundreds of years. Everyone has a duty to act with reasonable care under the circumstances. When a person fails to act with reasonable care, they are acting negligently. What does it mean to use reasonable care under the circumstances? After all, an action may seem reasonable to one person but unreasonable to another person. Courts in Alabama use something called a standard of care to determine what reasonable care looks like in each situation.
The Standard of Care
The standard of care changes depending on the circumstances of the case. For example, suppose a victim becomes injured in a slip and fall accident in the defendant’s grocery store. In the grocery store industry, the standard of care for inspecting concrete floors for slip and fall hazards like liquid spilling on the floor is high. If the attorney investigates the grocery store and finds that the staff failed to perform an inspection of the floor for hours, despite having many customers and foot traffic, you will be able to argue that the grocery store did not meet the standard of care.
The court will determine whether the employees’ failure to inspect the floors for liquid spills 4 hours at a time is a violation of the standard of care. Your lawyer will bring in experts who can testify about what the standards in the industry are for keeping grocery store customers safe from spilled liquid. Several other factors may influence whether the defendant breaches the standard of care, including the following:
- The experience of the employees at the grocery store
- The nature of the spill, such as how obvious it was to customers and employees
- Whether any of the employees knew about the spill and failed to take any action to protect customers
The Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice Cases
The standard of care for medical malpractice cases is different. Instead of considering what a reasonable person would do under the circumstances, doctors and specialists have a unique standard of care. The court must decide whether the healthcare provider failed to use reasonable care, skill, and diligence as other similar healthcare providers in the same practice area would use. The court must compare the health care providers actions to other health care providers who:
- Practice the same area of medicine
- With the same sills, and
- Within the same or highly similar medical community.
Negligence Per Se
In Alabama and many other states, there is a legal doctrine called negligence per se. A court has the right to assume the defendant has been negligent when the defendant violated a law enacted to protect someone such as the injured victim. Suppose the defendant was violating Alabama law by driving while intoxicated over the legal limit, and caused a devastating car accident. In that case, the defendant violated a law enacted to protect other drivers on the road from drunk driving.
The victim would claim that the defendant is negligent per se, meaning that the court will automatically agree that the defendant was negligent. Proving the legal doctrine of negligence per se is often easier for the plaintiff. Instead of establishing negligence, the plaintiff can focus on proving that the defendant’s negligence caused their injuries. Plaintiffs will still need to prove the full extent of their injuries after proving that the defendant was negligent per se.
Discuss Your Case With a Personal Injury Lawyer in Alabama
Navigating a personal injury lawsuit is challenging, especially as you are recovering from a serious injury. One of the best things you can do is discuss your case with a skilled personal injury lawyer who can help you understand your case’s value and develop a winning legal strategy. Contact Heninger Garrison Davis today to schedule your free initial consultation.