California Negligence Law
Negligence Law Definition
Negligence is defined as a failure to act when you owe a duty to another person. An example of this would be when a customer falls and breaks their arm after slipping on a spill which wasn’t promptly cleaned up. In this situation, the shopkeeper might face a negligence claim from the customer. While negligence is defined quite similarly between states, the degree to which negligence is shared varies. Californian law follows the comparative negligence legal doctrine. Under this doctrine, the plaintiff is allowed to sue for the percentage of damages attributable to the defendant.
Defenses to Negligence
Defendants can raise many defenses in order to prove they aren’t negligent. Some of them are as follows.
- The defendant didn’t owe any duty of care to the plaintiff
- The plaintiff was responsible for his/her injury
- The plaintiff assumed the risk of injury
There are situations where these defenses are viable and there are situations where they aren’t. A lawyer will be able to tell you which defenses are viable and which aren’t.
Are children held to the same standards as adults in negligent cases?
Children are not held to the same standard of conduct as adults in California. Minors are expected to follow the same amount of care that other minors of the same maturity, intelligence, and capacity under similar circumstances. When a judge determines if a child’s actions were negligent, the judge thinks of the child’s age as well as life experience.
What happens if there is more than a single source of an injury?
In situations where there are two or more people responsible for negligence which results in an injury to the plaintiff, both of the parties are considered at fault. In this situation, a judge or jury would assign each person or party a percentage of responsibility for the injury.
What forms a case of negligence?
The plaintiff needs to prove the following when establishing that the person who caused their injuries was negligent.
- Duty – The plaintiff needs to provide proof of the duty of care. The law recognizes that a relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant requires the defendant to offer a standard of care so that the plaintiff isn’t harmed.
- Breach – The defendant has to defend himself/herself from the plaintiff’s allegations of breach. A breach is said to have occurred if there is a failure by the defendant to meet the standard of care required. An example of a breach of duty of care is when a driver runs a red light.
- Causation – The plaintiff has to prove that an injury was caused due to the breach by the defendant.
- Damages – The plaintiff has to prove that they’ve suffered an injury. It can be an injury to property or a physical injury.
Is recovery possible if the plaintiff was also at fault?
California follows a system where a plaintiff’s own negligence doesn’t prevent them from recovering damages. If the plaintiff is found partially at fault, the judge or jury will reduce the plaintiff’s award depending on the plaintiff’s percentage of fault.
If you’re involved in a case of negligence, it’s important that you seek professional legal help. Everyone’s situation is different. The correct course of action will require a professional’s input. In the unfortunate event of a negligence case, there are many legal battles to fight such as auto insurance claims, claims from the other party and so on. This is another reason as to why professional help is the best course of action. It is important to seek professional advice as you’ll increase your chances of walking away unscathed.