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How negligence can impact victims harmed in car accidents

Many people may have heard the term "negligence" mentioned in relation to car accident liability or liability for other types of accidents that cause injury or death. Because liability for harm is based on negligence, some may wonder what negligence refers to. Negligence refers to the failure to use the ordinary amount of care a reasonable person would use in any particular circumstance to prevent harm to others.

Generally, the duty of care refers to the amount of care a prudent person would exercise to ensure the safety of others. A party who failed to act according to the ordinary standard of care, such as a driver, may be liable to victims for the damages and harm caused by the party's careless actions, or negligence.

For a party to be negligent, certain factors must be present related to the party's conduct (or failure to act, as omissions when there is a duty to act may also sometimes be considered negligent conduct). Factors that will be considered are whether or not the party had a legal duty to exercise reasonable care; whether or not the party failed to exercise reasonable care in the circumstances; whether or not it is true that in the absences of the party's failure to exercise reasonable care the harm would still have occurred;, whether or not the harm was a foreseeable result of the party's conduct; and if victim suffered damages.

These factors will be evaluated to determine liability for negligence through a personal injury claim brought by the victim or victim's family. When an individual is found liable for negligence through careless actions, the individual can be required to compensate the victim for the damages the victim, or victim's family, suffered as a result. Because of this, a determination of negligence is important.

Harm that a negligent party may be liable for can include damages related to injury or death that resulted from the party's failure to avoid harm to others through the party's careless actions. Each situation is unique but damages that may be compensable can include medical expenses, funeral expenses, lost wages, lost-earning capacity, loss of support and services and pain and suffering damages.

A personal injury claim for damages may be able to aid victims, or family members of victims, through settlement or other legal process with the damages they have suffered. Negligence can, at times, seem like a complex calculation but an understanding of what negligence refers to and the protections available to victims and their families may offer help.

Source: Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute, "Negligence," Accessed August 28, 2014

Source: Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute, "Negligence," Accessed August 28, 2014

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