Negligence and strict liability are two important terms used when discussing the basis for many types of personal injury claims. Many people who get injured focus on the harm they suffered. However, proving that the harm occurred because of someone's fault is also necessary.
Negligence and duty of care
For many kinds of injury cases, the plaintiff must show that the other party was negligent. This means that this person had a duty of care to the plaintiff and failed to perform it. California law requires everyone to use a normal level of care in everyday conduct, especially if dealing with materials that present a risk to others.
In the case of a car crash, drivers have a duty to their fellow motorists as well as pedestrians to follow traffic laws and generally drive in a reasonably safe manner. A driver who ignores a stop sign and drives through an intersection, colliding with another vehicle, has caused harm to another person by breaching the duty to obey traffic signs.
Another typical personal injury case is the slip-and-fall. The owner's negligence must have caused the fall and resulting injury. Thus, an owner who knew about a spill and left it there all day without cleaning up or clearly marking it is more likely to be found negligent than an owner who could not reasonably know about a spill that happened right before someone fell on it.
For cases based on medical malpractice, negligence means failing to comply with established standards of care. Expert testimony often helps clarify these standards in application to the particular situation of the plaintiff.
Causation and fault
Not only must negligence occur, it must also actually cause the accident. Complicated issues can arise in cases when someone was negligent, but other causes may have contributed to or caused the accident.
If both the plaintiff's and the defendant's negligent conduct combined to cause injuries, California law follows the comparative negligence model, which allows the plaintiff to recover but deduct according to his or her percentage of fault. If the plaintiff's accident was 99 percent his or her fault, he or she can still recover 1 percent of damages.
Strict liability is a concept used when dealing with an inherently risky activity or product. When talking about product liability, strict liability generally applies for a product that is defectively made or designed or does not have proper warnings or instructions. Strict liability means that people injured by defective products may be able to sue the manufacturer without having to prove that the manufacturer was negligent.
If someone suffers from injuries because of a defective product or someone else's negligence, speak with an experienced lawyer nearby can help. A qualified personal injury attorney can come up with a strong strategy based on the facts of the case.