Injuries that are caused by the negligence of another person can cause many unexpected problems. These include medical bills, pain, suffering, lost time from work, and other inconveniences. At the Law Offices of Ed L. Laughlin, we represent people who have been injured by various types of negligence. We strive to obtain fair compensation for injuries, medical bills, and other expenses. If you or someone you know has been injured by the negligence of another person or entity, then you need personal injury attorney Ed Laughlin. Please contact our firm to arrange your free consultation.
Our firm offers a full range of services designed to help injured people obtain the compensation needed to pay for medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. We are experienced in addressing liability issues and holding negligent people accountable for their harmful actions.
We help clients who have fallen victim to Auto Accidents, Trucking Accidents, Motorcycle Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, Defective Products and Medical Malpractice
Negligence suits have historically been analyzed in stages similar to the analysis of crimes. An important concept related to elements is that if a plaintiff fails to prove any one element of his claim, he loses on the entire tort claim. For example, let's assume that a particular tort has five elements. Each element must be proven. If the plaintiff proves only four of the five elements, the plaintiff has not succeeded in making out his claim.
Common law jurisdictions may differ slightly in the exact classification of the elements of negligence, but the elements that must be established in every negligence case are: duty, breach, causation, and damages. Negligence can be conceived of as having just three elements - conduct, causation and damages. More often, it is said to have four (duty, breach, causation and pecuniary damages) or five (duty, breach, actual cause, proximate cause, and damages). Each would be correct, depending on how much specificity someone is seeking. "The broad agreement on the conceptual model", writes Professor Robertson of the University of Texas, "entails recognition that the five elements are best defined with care and kept separate. But in practice", he goes on to warn, "several varieties of confusion or conceptual mistakes have sometimes occurred."
A duty of care is a legal obligation imposed on an individual requiring that they adhere to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others. It is the first element that must be established to proceed with an action in negligence. The plaintiff must be able to show a duty of care imposed by law which the defendant has breached. In turn, breaching a duty may subject an individual to liability.
Once it is established that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff/claimant, the matter of whether or not that duty was breached must be settled. The test is both subjective and objective. The defendant who knowingly (subjective) exposes the plaintiff/claimant to a substantial risk of loss, breaches that duty. The defendant who fails to realize the substantial risk of loss to the plaintiff/claimant, which any reasonable person [objective] in the same situation would clearly have realized, also breaches that duty.
Breach of duty is not limited to professionals or persons under written or oral contract; all members of society have a duty to exercise reasonable care toward others and their property. A person who engages in activities that pose an unreasonable risk toward others and their property that actually results in harm, breaches their duty of reasonable care.
Damages place a monetary value on the harm done, following the principle of restitutio in integrum (Latin for "restoration to the original condition"). Thus, for most purposes connected with the quantification of damages, the degree of culpability in the breach of the duty of care is irrelevant. Once the breach of the duty is established, the only requirement is to compensate the victim.
Damages are compensatory in nature. Compensatory damages addresses a plaintiff/claimant's losses (in cases involving physical or mental injury the amount awarded also compensates for pain and suffering). The award should make the plaintiff whole, sufficient to put the plaintiff back in the position he or she was before Defendant's negligent act. Anything more would unlawfully permit a plaintiff to profit from the tort.
Special damages are quantifiable dollar losses suffered from the date of defendant's negligent act (the tort) up to a specified time (proven at trial). Special damage examples include: lost wages, medical bills, and damage to property such as your car.
General damages are damages that are not quantified in monetary terms (e.g., there's no invoice or receipt as there would be to prove special damages). A general damage example is an amount for the pain and suffering one experiences from a car accident. Lastly, where the plaintiff proves only minimal loss or damage, or the court or jury is unable to quantify the losses, the court or jury may award nominal damages.
Punitive damages are to punish a defendant, they are NOT to compensate plaintiffs in negligence cases. Therefore, punitive damages are NOT obtainable in a negligence case. Punitive damages are awardable only in cases where a defendant has been found "guilty" of intentional, reckless or malicious wrongdoing, such as fraud, defamation or false imprisonment. The easy way to remember this concept is to think about a car accident where there is physical injury. If the defendant driver was negligent (say by running a red light) then punitive damages cannot be sought. But if the defendant driver was drunk then punitive damages could be awarded.
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