If you have been injured at the hands of someone else or due to the negligence of another party, you may be eligible for compensation under North Carolina’s personal injury laws. One common way to seek compensation is to prove negligence on the part of the other party. Negligence is a tricky area of law, especially for injured individuals in Asheville. The best way to set up your case effectively is with the help of a skilled personal injury attorney, like attorney Lakota R. Denton. Get compensation with Lakota R. Denton by building a strong case for negligence as the cause of your injury in Asheville.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is a legal term that applies when someone owes another party a “duty of care” but fails to provide that, and an injury occurs. In other words, in a negligence case, the cause of your injury is negligence because the other party did not give you the care you required. In most cases involving negligence, the at-fault party did not intend to cause an injury, but their lack of action was the underlying cause.
How to Prove Negligence?
In order to prove negligence in Asheville, you must prove four things. These are:
1. The Person Owed You a Duty of Care
Before someone can be accused of negligence, your legal team must prove that they had a duty of care to you. This means that the person is in a role that requires them to behave towards another person with watchfulness, caution, prudence, and attention. Duty of care can also be applied when someone owes this level of care to the general public.
Sometimes, a duty of care is obvious. Someone who is in a professional role, like a teacher or a doctor, has a duty of care to those in their charge. A doctor owes a duty of care to their patients when they come for medical attention. A teacher owes a duty of care to protect and educate students. However, these two professionals do not owe you a duty of care for helping you with your personal finances.
Drivers who take to the road have a duty of care to the general public. They agree to abide by driving laws in order to avoid causing an accident. If they fail to adhere to these laws or are driving recklessly, they are not giving the general public the proper duty of care.
These are a couple of examples of duty of care. In order to prove negligence, you must first show that the person had that duty of care. If they did not, then you cannot pursue a personal injury claim against the person.
2. The Person Breached their Duty of Care
Next, after proving that the at-fault party had a duty of care, the legal team must prove that they then breached their duty of care. Just because someone is injured does not automatically mean that there was a breach of duty of care.
An example of such a breach would be if someone was driving recklessly and they caused a crash that led to injuries. Reckless driving is breaching the duty of care that comes with accepting the role of driving. Similarly, if a doctor was told of a patient’s symptoms and chose to ignore those symptoms without cause, and the patient suffered a serious illness or injury as a result, this could be a breach of the duty of care.
In contrast, if a driver was following all driving laws and something happened that was unavoidable, like a road hazard rolling in front of them, they may not have a breach of duty of care. Similarly, if a doctor was not able to observe a symptom and was not told about it, and thus failed to diagnose a patient properly, they may not have breached the duty of care.
3. That Breach Led to The Injuries
Finally, to fully prove negligence in Asheville, the legal team must prove that the breach of duty of care was the cause of harm to another party. If the harm was from another cause, or if the breach of duty of care did not cause harm, then it is not usually considered a negligence case.
4. That the Injured Party has No-Fault
North Carolina is one of only five states in the country that has a pure contributory negligence rule. This rule indicates if the injured party has any fault for the accident, they cannot receive damages. The burden of proof for this lies with the defendant, but it can make proving negligence more challenging.
Consider as an example a slip-and-fall case that happens inside a store. If the customer slipped after entering a restricted area or stepping on a tripping hazard that was obvious, then they may have contributory negligence. Similarly, if a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle because they are texting while walking instead of looking where they are going, they may have contributory negligence.
Thankfully, there are defenses to the contributory negligence rule, but the reality is this makes North Carolina personal injury cases more challenging. Because of this, working with an Asheville personal injury attorney is vital.
What Is Not Required to Prove Negligence in Asheville?
Unlike other types of personal injury cases, negligence cases do not require the injured party to prove any intent to cause harm. If the at-fault party knows their actions will cause harm, and they perform those actions anyway, then the case usually is prosecuted as a reckless conduct case.
The injured party also does not have to prove that the person performed an action. Negligence can occur if someone fails to perform an action they should perform under their duty of care.
What Is Negligence Per Se?
In most negligence cases, the injured party must prove that the negligence of duty of care is something a reasonable person would have done in the same scenario. However, if the negligent party violates a law, then it may fall under “negligence per se” rules.
Negligence per se indicates that the at-fault party broke the law or violated a regulation. In that case, the court may consider the person and their actions negligence without digging deeper to see if another reasonable person would have acted differently. The breaking of a law or regulation eliminates the need to prove a duty of care and a breach of that duty. The judge and jury will look at the law that was broken when determining fault.
Legal Representation Is Essential in Asheville Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury law in North Carolina is complicated, and injured parties can easily lose their claim if they don’t put together a case effectively. That’s why working with an attorney is so important. Find an attorney, like Lakota R. Denton, who understands how to prove negligence in Asheville personal injury claims, and start building a strong case to ensure you get adequate compensation.