When a person is harmed, they may be entitled to be paid compensation as a result. While accidents can happen, all instances of harm are not necessarily accidental. In some cases, the perpetrator failed to use due care and that led to an injury. This area of personal injury law is complex so read on for an explanation of what sets negligence apart from carelessness and why it matters to your compensation.
Differences Between Carelessness and Negligence
All you have to do to understand negligence is to add the word "intent" to the action. Car wrecks may be accidental, for instance, and almost all of them are. Most drivers don't intend to cause an accident. Even such actions as running a stop sign fall into the category of "careless" rather than negligent. If you add actions like driving while intoxicated, though, that turns it into negligence. Here are a few other things to know about negligence.
- In many cases, negligent actions that cause harm are also crimes. When that happens, two separate courts deal with things. Taking the example above of a driver who drove intoxicated and causes a wreck, the driver will likely be arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) – at the very least. That case is litigated in criminal court. If the hurt driver or passengers take action against the DUI driver, that case is litigated using civil law.
- Businesses can be negligent too. When harm comes to a customer at a store, it might go beyond an accident. For example, if the company had been cited by authorities for unsafe conditions at a place of business, the continuation of such actions might be regarded as negligent by a judge. Another form of negligence is allowing unsafe products to be sold to consumers. Some business owners have stood trial in criminal court for failing to address things in a timely manner after a consumer fell ill or was hurt.
- When cases are held in two courts, it's sure to bolster a personal injury case regardless of the outcome of the criminal case. Just being arrested and charged may influence the judge and jury about a civil case.
- Greater compensation can result from negligence cases because of punitive damages. When a case is litigated in civil court, the victim can ask for economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are things like medical expenses, lost wages, etc. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering. The third form of damages, punitive damages, cannot be requested when filing suit. Punitive damages are up to the judge and jury and the amount awarded could exceed that of the other damages.
Regardless of the motivation, speak to a personal injury lawyer to find out more.