Most injuries are sustained from accidents; nobody wants them to happen, but they come about anyway. Despite the lack of malicious intent, a closer look at the facts is likely to reveal some form of negligence by one or more parties. This carelessness may be used as basis to sue for compensation. So, how does negligence work in Indiana personal injury suits? Four elements must be present for negligence claims to be valid:
First, the plaintiff will need to establish duty of care. The defendant should have a legal responsibility that should have benefited the plaintiff. For example, a doctor has the duty to care for his patients: he should provide them with competent medical advice and services. Motorists have the duty to follow traffic laws that should benefit fellow commuters and other road users. Employers have the duty to provide a reasonably safe environment for their workers. Owners of commercial establishments have the duty to care for their customers while they are on the premises.
Once the duty of care has been established, the next step is for the plaintiff to show that there was a breach of this duty. The defendant could have done this with or without full-knowledge. Failure to realize risk from actions or inactions is considered negligence, since a reasonable person in the same situation is expected to realize the fault. For example, a doctor may have failed to warn his patients about the risks involved in medical treatments before proceeding. Patients should be given pertinent information to help them make an intelligent, informed decision. An employer may have been negligent in giving workers proper training, safety gear, and well-maintained equipment.
The plaintiff must have sustained compensable losses. This could be in the form of a bodily injury which resulted in medical bills or perhaps property damage which will have to be remedied through repairs or replacement. These costly services can be a major financial burden to the plaintiff. It is reasonable to expect them to seek assistance in the form of monetary compensation from the person who has the legal liability. Other types of damages that can merit compensation include lost wages, reduced quality of life, and hardships that fall under the term “pain and suffering.”
The last step is to link the defendant’s actions to the damages. Before compensation can be awarded, the plaintiff must prove to the court that the injuries suffered were truly caused by the defendant. If a motorist was following too closely and rear-ended the vehicle in front of it, then he or she will be liable for the damage to the car and any injuries to the occupants.
Note that Indiana uses comparative fault in determining the award in a successful suit. If both parties are at-fault, then the final amount will be reduced in proportion to the blame. A plaintiff who is deemed have twenty percent of the fault will only be able to recover eighty percent of the damages. Learn more about this by consulting an Indianapolis injury attorney.