What is negligence in a personal injury case?

Posted on July 15, 2014

If you have suffered an injury because of someone else’s negligent actions, you may be entitled to damages in a personal injury lawsuit. Although you have probably heard the term “personal injury” thrown around a lot, you are might be wondering exactly what it means and entails.

First, let’s start off by explaining what “negligence” is. Negligence essentially means that a person was not acting like an “ordinary reasonable person” would have in the same situation and you were injured as a result.

Whether or not a person acted within the “ordinary reasonable person” standard is typically up to the judge or jury to decide.

However, not all personal injury cases involve negligence.

There are some situations in which people or entities could be held “strictly liable” for the injuries they cause. This means the actor didn’t necessarily have to act unreasonable or with ill intent.

For example, the manufacturers of products that are inherently dangerous or defective can be held strictly liable for the injuries the products cause.

Additionally, dog owners can be held strictly liable for dog bites and attacks, even if they did not know that their pets were dangerous.

In other personal injury cases, the actions of a defendant were more than negligent, they were criminal. In these situations in which a defendant behaved recklessly or intentionally against the public’s interest, “punitive damages” might be an option.

While normal damages in personal injury cases are meant to compensate the victims for their injuries and losses, punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for bad behavior.

For example, following a fatal drunk driving accident, the victim’s family may be able to pursue punitive damages from the drunk driver.

For more information discussing personal injury law, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury Law page.