When You Can (And Cannot) Sue for Negligence

In America, there are over 860 million physician office visits each year.

Whenever we take time out of our lives to improve our health, we trust that the doctors know what they’re doing. However, sometimes doctors make mistakes, and these mistakes can lead to life-changing injuries. In certain situations, you can sue the doctor in question for negligence.

However, state laws have strict requirements for determining what qualifies as a negligent claim and what doesn’t. To help you out, we’ve created this short guide. Read on to learn when you can vs. can’t sue for negligence.

Elements of Negligence

For starters, you can’t sue for negligence if your case doesn’t qualify for the grounds of negligence. To win a negligence case, you have to prove 4 separate elements of negligence. Each element points to show that the defendant behaved negligently.

The 4 elements are damages, causation, breach, and duty. Duty refers to proving that the defendant had a legal obligation. For example, an employer has a responsibility to provide a safe working environment.

Another example of duty would be a doctor’s responsibility to provide reasonable care. After establishing duty, it’ll be your responsibility to show that there was a breach. The breach means that the responsible party failed to act in a particular way.

Perhaps the employer was behaving dangerously, or maybe the doctor was distracted. Whatever the case may be, when somebody has a duty and breaches it, you could have a negligence case. However, you’ll have to take things one step further.

Next, you’ll need to prove causation. Causation is the process of showing that it was the defendant’s direct actions that caused your injury. Causation can also be established by showing that an indirect action, such as failure to uphold a responsibility, cause your injury.

After proving duty, breach, and causation, you’ll need to show the damages. For instance, if you’re injured from negligent behavior, that would be a type of damage. If you don’t have all 4 elements of your negligence case, you might not have a lawsuit.

Car Accident Negligence

Can you sue for negligence in a car accident case? Absolutely! When another driver gets behind the steering wheel, they are accepting their duty to drive responsibly.

If that driver fails to obey traffic laws, and an accident results, you could have a negligence case. Other examples of driving negligence include failing to pay attention, losing control of the vehicle, and not maintaining vehicle maintenance.

For instance, if someone’s tail lights are out, and you rear-end them, you could argue that it was their fault. How do negligence cases come into play in all of this? Great question! For an attorney to take on your car accident case and turn it into a negligence lawsuit, there will need to be significant damages.

Falling at the Grocery Store

Let’s say you’re visiting your local grocery store when you suddenly trip and fall. The floors weren’t wet, and there wasn’t anything on the ground to make you tumble. 

The only thing that might have contributed to your fall is the fact that you were wearing oversized flip-flops. Would you be able to sue for negligence in this situation? Nope. 

As long as the grocery store owner upheld their responsibility of keeping the area safe, you probably won’t have a case. Instead, it’s likely that the courts will decide that your negligent behavior cause the injury, not the store owners.

Let’s take the same story, but say that the grocery store floor’s wet when you fall. It doesn’t matter if there’s a wet floor signposted nearby, you could still have grounds for legal repercussions.

The wet floors are a condition that we’re outside of your control and contributed to the injuries. Therefore, it’s likely that an attorney would be happy to take on your case.

Navigating Medical Malpractice

What happens when an injury occurs at the hand of a doctor? Not every case instantly qualifies as medical malpractice or negligence.

In certain situations, circumstances are outside of the doctor’s control. If a patient accepts the risks involved at the surgery, and one of those risks becomes a reality,  they can’t instantly sue the hospital.

However, if the nurses, doctor, or other medical staff fail to uphold their duty, there could be a claim for negligence. A great example of this would be a doctor failing to read somebody’s medical charts. If that doctor then prescribed a medication that the patient was allergic to, they could be sued for medical malpractice.

Do You Have Significant Damages?

Significant damages include things such as permanent injuries, disfiguring, scarring, and fatalities. If you or someone you know recently lost a loved one due to negligence, we suggest reaching out to a wrongful death attorney. They’ll be able to review all the aspects of your case and point you in a direction that helps increase your odds of winning. Not to mention, a lawyer will be able to help you navigate all of the intricacies that the courtroom presents.

During your consultation, bring whatever evidence you have for the attorney to review. If you don’t have evidence, bring notes that clearly describe the incident you’re dealing with. After reviewing the details of your claim, a trustworthy attorney will be able to tell you whether or not you should move forward with legal action.

In some situations, it’s not worth your time or money to pursue the damages. For instance, if your injury is mild and you’ve already recovered, you might not want to go through the hassle of taking things to court. On the other hand, if you’re dealing with emotional distress and other types of damages, you deserve compensation.

Talk to a Professional

As you can see, negligence isn’t a clear-cut concept. Tiny details about each incident can greatly change the course of your case. Instead of trying to navigate everything on your own, go ahead and reach out to an attorney today.

You’ll feel better once you know whether or not you can sue for negligence. Remember to bring whatever evidence you have with you to your consultation to help expedite things. 

Are you ready to learn more tips and tricks? Then check out the rest of our website.

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