In cases of personal injury, one of the most important things to determine is who is ultimately at fault. The process can be very involved and the finding can sometimes be surprising. To determine who is at fault in your personal injury case, you need the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer. He or she will help you sort through the details and counsel you on how to proceed with your case.
Who Makes the Determination?
Who decides fault in a personal injury case varies based on the circumstances of the case. If you choose to proceed with the help of an attorney, he or she will take responsibility for uncovering all pertinent facts and information. San Diego personal injury attorneys sort through evidence gathered via interviews and investigations in an effort to make a final determination of liability.
Who Pays the Settlement?
Parties named in personal injury claims often carry liability insurance. If found negligent in your case, the burden of paying monetary awards falls on an insurance company. Those insurance companies will typically conduct their own investigations and make independent determinations of liability. If the parties involved cannot reach an agreement regarding liability, the injured party may need to file a personal injury lawsuit and leave the determination of liability in the hands of an impartial jury.
Using Negligence to Prove Fault
The vast majority of personal injury claims occur because one or more involved parties displayed negligence. Negligence can be defined as conduct that is both sub-standard in satisfying duty of care as expected of a reasonable person and cause of harm to another individual or group.
The essential legal elements to proving negligence are relatively simple, but they are also the end result of an intricate legal process. In order to hold a specific party liable in a personal injury case, you must be able to prove the following:
The defendant had a legal duty of care for the safety and well-being of the plaintiff
The defendant breached that duty when the injury occurred
The action or inaction of the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injury
If all three elements are satisfied in the case, the defendant is typically found liable for the injury and tasked with paying damages to the plaintiff.
Other Ways To Prove Fault
Not every personal injury case involves straightforward or traditional negligence. There are a variety of other ways wherein a plaintiff can prove fault. These ways include:
Proving negligence per se
Showing “strict liability”
Proving Intentional conduct
Negligence per se occurs in the case of an unexcused statutory violation. In such cases, the defendant would be automatically held liable for any damages suffered of a type the related statute was intended to prevent, and if the plaintiff belongs to specific group of people protected under the statute.
If, for example, someone’s reckless operation of a motor vehicle results in injury, the driver is almost always held liable since reckless driving is a violation of vehicle codes. Liability in cases like this is often established using the legal principles of negligence per se.
Strict liability does not require a defendant to actually be negligent to be held liable for damages that result from injury to another. Product liability is a prime example of an instance wherein strict liability may apply. Anyone in the chain of distribution could conceivably be named as the negligent party, even without ever having direct control or supervision over the manufacture, sale, distribution, and use of the product.
Intentional conduct covers voluntarily negligent or malicious conduct that results in injury. Cases of assault often carry both civil and criminal penalties and those defendants facing criminal charges can still be sued in civil court for the injuries they cause.