What is Negligence?

The law imposes a standard of care on all of us, to act in a way that doesn’t cause harm to others. For example, when you are driving a car you owe a level of care that includes devoting your full time and attention to your driving. Manufacturers of products and others along the chain of production owe a duty to consumers to produce products that perform safely. When the standard of care is not met, the person or company breaching that duty is negligent. Injuries caused by negligent acts deserve compensation. The yardstick against which actions are measured when determining negligence is that of how a reasonable person would behave in a like or similar circumstance.

Negligence is defined as lack of care given to an activity as is required by the circumstances and would be given by a reasonable person in the same situation. Additionally, there are types of negligence the law recognizes:

  • Comparative negligence: a legal theory that allows for a comparison of the level of negligent behavior by all parties to an accident. When multiple parties act negligently, liability is apportioned in accordance with the amount of negligent behavior of each party, as compared to all the parties.
  • Contributory negligence: a legal concept that prevents recovery from accidents when the injured person was also negligent and contributed to the incident.

This distinction becomes important depending upon the jurisdiction in which the accident occurred. In Virginia, contributory negligence is the recognized form of negligence when issues of personal injury arise. This means to make a claim for injuries, a showing of negligent behavior by the person causing the injury, and no negligent behavior by the injured person, must both be demonstrated in order to recover for damages caused by an accident.

If you have been in an accident, call our office to speak with a qualified personal injury attorney in Virginia and Washington D.C. At Hartel, DeSantis & Howie, LLP our team of talented attorneys has the experience required to analyze the facts of your case and guide you in the right direction to seek compensation. Call today to schedule a free initial consultation.

By Michael A. DeSantis | Published November 27, 2014