If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the actions of another individual, business, or entity, you have likely heard the word “negligence” tossed around. However, many injury victims may not understand exactly what negligence is. The Cornell Law School dictionary defines negligence as “A failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions when there is some duty to act.”
That may give us the book definition of negligence, but we want to dig down further in order to help you explain what negligence is and what it looks like in the real world. For the purposes of this brief article, we want to stick to only the types of negligence used in Arizona injury cases.
In order for an injury victim to recover compensation for their losses, they need to prove the four basic elements of negligence. Briefly, this includes:
Arizona operates under a “pure comparative negligence” system. This means that injury victims can recover compensation even if they are partially or mostly at fault for the incident (up to 99% at-fault). However, an injury victim will receive reduced compensation for their claim based on their percentage of fault.
For example, if Driver A is awarded $100,000 after sustaining a significant neck injury caused by Driver B, but it is determined that Driver A was 20% at fault for the incident because their brake lights were malfunctioning, then Driver A would be entitled to $80,000 as opposed to the full $100,000.
As we discussed above, negligence requires proving that the defendant owed a duty of care and that they breached their duty. Under the doctrine of negligence per se in Arizona, a defendant’s duty and breach of duty will be proven automatically if the incident surrounds the defendant breaking the law. In other words, if it can be proven that the defendant broke the law, you will not have to provide evidence that there was a duty and a breach of duty. Negligence per se is not available in all cases.
The term vicarious negligence is also sometimes called “imputed negligence,” and means that some other party will be held liable for the negligent actions of another party they are legally responsible for. This is commonly used in dog bite cases in which dog owners are routinely held liable for injuries caused by their pet.
Vicarious liability is also used when an employer is held responsible for the negligent actions of their employee, but only if the employee was acting within the scope of their duties at the time an incident occurs.
Our Scottsdale personal injury lawyers can help you understand the burden of proof in your claim. Call Shapiro Law Team 24/7 at (480) 637-4349 to schedule a free consultation.