We meet many people who have questions about negligence, especially in relation to personal injury cases. If you’ve suffered an injury and believe it was someone else’s fault, we will need to establish that the other party was negligent so we can recover your damages.
But how do you know if someone was negligent?
How Does a Bridgeport Negligence Attorney Identify and Prove Negligence?
We’ll review the details of your case, including any official documents related to your injury, such as police accident reports, medical records, etc. Additionally, we may ask you questions to clarify how your injury occurred, who was there at the time, and more.
As we learn about your injury, we’ll look for evidence of the four elements of negligence:
Duty of care. In broad terms, negligence means that a person or entity didn’t use “reasonable care” to avoid harming others in a given situation. This duty of care is specific to the setting. If you’re driving a car, “reasonable care” might mean obeying the speed limit and slowing down around crosswalks. If you run a company that produces appliances, “reasonable care” could mean rigorously testing your products to ensure they are safe when used in expected ways. Once we’ve established what the other party’s duty of care is in a particular situation, we can move on to the next step.
A breach in the duty of care. Now that we know the other party’s duty, we need to find out if they failed in this duty. Examples of a failed duty of care in a car accident might include speeding, driving drunk, or otherwise driving recklessly.
This breach or failure caused your injuries. We’ll use the evidence in your case to show how the other party’s actions led to your injuries. Evidence can include photos, videos, witness testimony, electronic data (such as the information collected by a car’s event data recorder or EDR), phone records, etc. For example, we might find a dashcam or doorbell video of your car accident and use it to show that the other driver pulled out in front of you or that you had the green light. We would then use medical records to explain how your injuries were caused by the car accident.
You suffered damages as a result of your injuries. Damages are losses incurred from a personal injury. These might include medical bills and related expenses, lost income, reduced earning potential, permanent disability or disfigurement, pain and suffering, and property damage. If you lose a loved one to another party’s negligence, damages in a wrongful death case include loss of financial support, loss of consortium or companionship, funeral and burial expenses, and more.
What Types of Accidents Might Involve Negligence?
It’s helpful to understand that negligence can occur in a wide array of situations. If your injury meets the criteria listed in the last section, we may be able to file a claim because of the other party’s negligence.
However, here are some common categories of personal injury claims:
Motor vehicle accidents are among the most common scenes where a person might experience negligence. These include collisions involving cars, trucks, tractor-trailers, motorcycles, buses, RVs, and other motor vehicles.
Some car accidents also affect pedestrians or bicycle riders who are struck by a negligent driver.
Although some crashes are unexpected and unavoidable, most are caused by negligence. Usually, the negligent party is one—or both—drivers.
Because Connecticut uses modified comparative negligence rules for personal injury cases, it’s possible for both parties to have some responsibility in an accident. If you are less than 51 percent at fault, you can collect damages from the other party but will sustain a reduction in your final award.
For instance, if you were 10 percent at fault, you could recover 90 percent of your damages. In less common situations, a third party may be negligent, such as the manufacturer of a defective car part that caused an accident.
Accidents with Other Vehicles
We also see injuries involving golf carts, ATVs, boats, and other recreational vehicles. In these situations, there are often multiple parties who might be negligent depending on the circumstances of the accident:
The person driving or operating the vehicle.
The owner of the vehicle.
The owner of the property where the accident occurred (we’ll discuss premises liability in a later section).
A person driving or operating another vehicle that collides with the injured person’s vehicle.
The manufacturer of the vehicle or one of its components.
A service company that incorrectly performed repairs on the vehicle.
Motor vehicles aren’t the only places where a defective product or component can cause injury. Many household products have also caused harm, including toys, children’s products, appliances, furniture, and more.
Drugs and medical devices also fall under defective product claims if they cause injury.
The product had a defect. This could be a design defect, an inherent problem with all items of the same model. Or, it could be a manufacturing defect, a problem caused by an error or irregularity at the factory that is usually limited to specific batches of the product. It could also be a marketing defect or negligence due to the company’s failure to warn consumers of potential risks.
The defect directly caused your injury. We’ll need to demonstrate that your injury only happened because of the product’s defective state.
You used the product in an expected and reasonable way. In other words, the product was dangerous even when it was used correctly. Often, the manufacturer’s defense will be that the end user modified the item in a way that made it defective or used it in a bizarre and unexpected way. We will work to provide evidence that you didn’t modify the product or misuse it.
These are situations in which a person is injured on someone else’s property—it could be a private residence, like a friend’s home, or a public place like a store or shopping mall. However, being injured on the property doesn’t necessarily mean the property owner was negligent.
It’s necessary to show that you were hurt because of a hazard the property owner/manager knew or should have known about and failed to fix.
One example is the “slip and fall” case. If you slip or trip on a hazard in a store, for example, the store may have been negligent if they failed to clean up the mess or block off the area until a more significant repair could be effected.
Puddles, debris on the floor, loose tiles or floorboards, snags or holes in carpets, and poorly lit stairwells are all potential hazards that may indicate negligence in these cases. If possible, try to take pictures of the area where you fell so we can examine them later.
While slip-and-falls are very common, they are not the only type of premises liability claim; in many cases, we find evidence of negligent security. This often occurs when a person is injured as the victim of a crime on a public property, like a store parking lot or a hotel room.
Businesses have a responsibility to take reasonable care to keep their guests safe, and if they fail to do so, they could be negligent. For example, let’s say that you were mugged in a grocery store parking lot, and the mugger knocked you down, causing you to break your wrist.
Say we investigate and learn the parking lot lacked security cameras and had several lights that had been out for weeks. We also found that several other muggings had been reported in this parking lot in the past few months, but the store’s management team made no effort to improve security.
In this case, the store may have been negligent in providing a reasonably safe environment for shoppers.
People suffer severe health problems for a number of reasons, including genetics, infection, injuries, exposure to toxins, and other causes. But what if you suspect you suffered a severe complication due to a doctor’s or healthcare worker’s mistake?
As a layperson, you may struggle to understand if your health problem was a preventable medical error or merely bad luck, but you shouldn’t have to wonder about it. A Bridgeport negligence lawyer will review your case and help you determine if medical negligence caused your serious health condition.
How Can You Get Help From a Bridgeport Negligence Law Firm?
If you believe or suspect you were injured due to another party’s negligence, please contact Bert McDowell Injury Law for a free, confidential consultation. We’ll learn about your injuries, answer your questions, and explain your options for seeking compensation.
Bert McDowell Injury Law was founded by attorney Bert McDowell, Jr., who has recovered millions of dollars in damages for injured clients. He has been included in the National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 and 40 Under 40 Connecticut Magazine.
Additionally, Mr. McDowell has been a Super Lawyers Rising Star for four consecutive years and serves on multiple nonprofit boards. In 2017, he received the 100 Men of Color Award for this community service and legal work.
If we take your case, there is no fee until we win or settle it, so you never have to worry about upfront costs. Call us today at (203) 590-9169.