The injured party must prove elements of negligence to win a personal injury negligence lawsuit. These elements are duty, breach, causation, and damages. The defendant may still deny the liability by filing a negligence defense after the plaintiff establishes the elements.
The defense may rely on doctrines that limit or eliminate liability regarding the alleged evidence. There are usually three common doctrines when defending oneself against negligence claims, including contributory negligence, comparative negligence, and assumption of risk.
Read on to discover what negligence is, its effects on your business, how to resolve legal issues, and the doctrines you can use to defend yourself.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is a legal cause of action that falls under general tort law. A negligence claim happens when an individual suffers injury resulting from another person’s carelessness. It may also happen when the other party fails to exercise the appropriate level of care anyone else would do under similar circumstances.
For instance, a person is liable for negligence for knowingly speeding through a stop sign and crashing into another vehicle, causing severe injuries to occupants. Negligence may also happen when a property owner fails to replace a broken stairwell and a guest suffers severe injuries.
What Effect Can Negligence Have on Your Business?
It’s a nightmare in business, contributing to various consequences. One of its most devastating consequences is physical injury from a work-related accident. Some accidents cause damage to expensive equipment leading to loss of income. Injuries in business encourage lawsuits that cost money and time and risk the reputation of the business.
There are various options to solve legal disputes, including disclaimers. These legal texts protect your business from legal liability from users and third parties. It requires warning consumers about any dangers or hazards your service or product has. Ensure to acknowledge that the list isn’t exhaustive.
Another solution to resolve legal disputes in business is through a waiver. It’s a document expressing intent to relinquish a legal claim or right. The relinquishment is voluntary and may apply to various legal situations. A purpose of a waiver is to eliminate an actual or possible liability with the other party in the agreement.
3 Best Defenses Against Negligence
You must know how to defend yourself from a negligence lawsuit regardless of whether you are at fault, partly to blame, or the plaintiff’s fault. There are usually three defenses you can consider, including:
- Contributory negligence
- Comparative negligence
- Assumption of risk
Let’s go into each defense in detail to understand what may apply in your situation. The result of the lawsuit depends on who takes most of the blame for the injuries.
An injury may happen where both the defendant and the plaintiff are responsible. An example is a car accident between two cars where one driver was overspeeding, and the other was drunk.
Both drivers are responsible for being negligent in displaying risk-taking behavior. The injured plaintiff is responsible for contributory negligence. The plaintiff contributes to his injury when his behavior falls short of what a reasonable person would’ve done to protect themselves from the injury.
Only a few states rely on conventional contributory negligence, while others follow a fairer option known as comparative negligence. Here, recovery is apportioned depending on the degree of fault for each party.
Comparative negligence allows awarding the plaintiff some damages for the injuries. The defendant isn’t relieved of responsibility because the plaintiff is partly responsible for their injuries. There are two forms of this type of negligence, including pure and partial comparative negligence.
Pure comparative negligence, where the plaintiff’s recovery is equal to the defendant’s. If the plaintiff’s percentage fault is 40, they can still recover 60 percent of the damages from the defendant. It even applies even when the plaintiff was primarily responsible for the injuries.
Partial comparative negligence reduces the plaintiff’s recovery of the percentage of fault if it’s below 50. If the plaintiff’s fault is 50 percent and above, he is completely denied recovery damages. When found to be 40 percent at fault, then the plaintiff can receive 60 percent of the damages from the defendant.
Assumption of Risk
This is a third-party defense against negligence. The plaintiff assumes the risk of injury for voluntarily going through a dangerous situation, fully aware of the risk involved. It’s assumed that the plaintiff voluntarily consented to the activity and can’t sue for the injuries obtained.
The plaintiff had a chance to avoid the risk but assumed it anyway. If the person had no choice but to avoid the risk, then there’s no way they could have assumed the risk. Defense only applies if the plaintiff had actual subjective knowledge of risks associated with the activity. So, the plaintiff must have voluntarily accepted the risk before indulging in the activity.
You must understand the best possible defenses when facing a negligence lawsuit. The doctrines include contributory, comparative, and assumption negligence. Understanding these allows knowing which way to defend yourself from hefty recovery damages.
A waiver is a solution to protect your business from injury resulting from ordinary negligence. You can sign up at PandaDoc Waivers for free and create legally binding waiver forms today. The app eliminates the need for paper waivers which aren’t environmentally friendly and take time to produce.