Negligence, the ‘Duty to Care’ and Fault for an Unintentional Accident

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Written By AndrewPerry

Founded in 2015 by a group of passionate legal professionals and enthusiasts, FlowingLaw started as a small blog. Today, it's a thriving community where ideas, expertise, and legal advice flow freely.





There are many types of accidents that can cause injuries, some quite bizarre and others beyond our ability to imagine. No matter what the circumstances, vehicle accidents, slip and falls mishaps or other injuries, the law determines who is legally responsible. You can also ask “Was the person negligent?” We’ll be discussing the elements of negligence in this article and will give some examples from real life.

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The ‘Duty of Caring’

In certain situations, it may be a question of whether someone is legally responsible for injuries. This could depend on whether there is a duty of care to protect someone from injuries if they are not expected to be at the scene of the accident.

Example: Sameer wanted a question from the produce manager at his local grocery store. He knocked at the door of the produce backroom, but no one answered. Sameer entered the room, despite the fact that it was designated “Employees only”. He was searching for someone when he noticed a stack of crates. He was injured when the crates fell on him. Sameer could not sue the store for a good cause of action because they had no duty to protect customers that ignore Employees Only signs or wander about where they are not supposed.

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What is reasonable?

The basic negligence rule states that everyone must exercise “reasonable care” in order to avoid injury to others. However, reasonable care can be affected by time, place, and the relationship between people. Therefore, the same act might be considered negligent in some instances but not in others.

Example 1: Softball players are playing on a field. Someone was looking at the field’s edge when a foul ball struck them. They were likely not negligent because they were playing safely on the field and hitting foul balls is an expected part of the game. The person who sat too close the the ball flying around on the field may have been the one responsible for being careless.

Example 2: A player in a softball match gets mad and throws his bat at someone watching from the sidelines. Throwing a bat in anger is not considered a reasonable part of softball and the person who was watching would have a right, so throwing the bat is negligent and the bat-thrower would be responsible for any injuries.

Example 3: A group of people playing softball in an empty lot accidentally hits the ball onto the sidewalk. It strikes someone who is walking by. The softball player responsible for hitting the ball onto the sidewalk would be considered negligent and held accountable. The law must balance the carefulness of law-abiding pedestrians with the negligence of someone who hits a ball on a sidewalk.

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Keys to a Negligence case

No matter what the accident was, getting fair compensation for your injuries requires little more than applying a few simple principles and using commonsense language.

You can show that you were responsible and the other person was negligent. In this case, you will be entitled to damages for your injuries.

Employers are legally responsible if a negligent worker causes an accident while performing for another person.

Accidents involving dangerous property or defective products are liable to the seller, maker, or owner of the product. This applies regardless of whether the defect or danger was actually caused.

Your right to receive compensation if you were also negligent is diminished to the extent that your carelessness caused the accident. This is called comparative negligence.

It is not necessary to prove anything. You can only make a reasonable argument for negligence by the other person, even if it seems plausible that they were careful.

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These basic rules will help you negotiate a fair settlement for your injury claim, regardless of what happened in your accident. Joseph L. Matthews’ How to Win Your Personal Injuries Claim (Nolo) provides a comprehensive guide that will help you navigate each stage of the claim process.