The Standard of Care When You Seek Damages for Personal Loss
When you have been hurt in any type of accident caused by the carelessness or wrongful act of another person, you have a right to pursue compensation to cover your injuries and losses. Ideally, you can recover full and fair compensation from an insurance company, or negotiate a settlement that meets your needs. You may, however, need to take your case to trial to get the outcome you want and need. If so, what do you need to show to fully recover for your losses?
The Legal Standard of Negligence
Though you can always file a lawsuit to recover damages based on another person’s intentional acts, as a practical matter, most personal injury claims are based on a legal theory of negligence. To prove negligence, you must demonstrate that:
- The defendant (person from who you seek compensation) failed to exercise the required “standard of care”
- As a result of that failure, the defendant “caused” an accident
- Because of the accident, you suffered actual losses
The Standard of Care in a Personal Injury Claim
In New Jersey (and across the United States), to recover compensation for a personal injury, you must first show that the defendant breached the duty of care. Under the law, every person in society has a duty to act as a “reasonable person” would in all situations, whether while driving a car, maintaining property, designing and manufacturing a product or engaging in any other behavior. While the law does not specifically define what qualifies as “reasonable” behavior, it is generally considered to be that in which an “average person of ordinary prudence” would engage.
The determination of breach, therefore, is made by the jury on a case-by-case basis. Because of the principle of stare decisis (“let the decision stand”), which compels juries to give weight to prior decisions on similar matters, there is a fair amount of consistency in the determination of whether the standard of care has been breached.
Contact the Cintron Firm
At the Cintron Firm, LLC, we offer more than 14 years of experience to people in New Jersey facing a broad array of legal challenges. Attorney Mark Cintron has worked as a prosecutor and has extensive courtroom experience, so he’s always ready, willing and able to protect your interests before a judge or jury. Contact our office online or call us at 201-791-1333 or (201) 535-0323 to set up an appointment.