Understanding Some Basic Terms
In the aftermath of an accident, you’ll hear a lot of things—arguing, advice, and legal lingo. Legal terms relating to personal injury law will be hurled from all sides in describing what happened and how to move forward. When trying to navigate your case with your attorney, it is incredibly beneficial to have a basic understanding of what the relevant legal terms actually mean so that you can know what you’re being told and, most importantly, whether or not it’s right!
Here, at the Law Offices of Aronberg and Aronberg, we want to make sure that you are well equipped to deal with the aftermath of your accident. Just as safety airbags in cars serve to keep you safe during an accident, understanding the terms associated with the personal injury claims process can ensure that you’ll escape the process unscathed.
Let’s start with perhaps the most prevalent word in personal injury law: “negligence.” If someone was negligent it means that they were careless and, in the context of personal injury, as a result of the carelessness, someone was injured. Someone can be deemed “negligent” if their careless behavior was a departure from their expected behavior. For example, it is negligent to drive while intoxicated and swerving lanes; conversely, expected behavior on the road is that you will drive in your lane and, certainly, while sober. Now, if you were injured by someone’s actions, to prove that someone has been negligent, there are four criteria:
1) there was a duty owed to the injured party (i.e., not driving dangerously)
2) a breachof that duty (i.e. they drove carelessly)
3) the negligent behavior caused your injury (experts assess that the defendant’s speeding, recklessly-driven car hit the back of yours, causing a back injury) and
4) you must prove that you were injured/damages (a doctor evaluated your back and confirmed that it is injured).
Next, let’s discuss the notion of “premises liability.” Premises liability relates to accidents that occur on a premise that falls under the umbrella of your responsibility. For example, if you’re a shop owner, you have a responsibility to maintain safe conditions for shoppers. If the floor of your shop is slippery, and a shopper slips on the slippery floor and hurts himself, you can be held “liable” because the injury took place on your “premises” because you failed to take the proper precautions. Let’s look at another example: let’s say you invite neighbors over for a party at your house. If there are rocks strewn about your backyard that pose a safety hazard, and somebody trips over one of them and injures herself, you can be held liable because it happened on your property. In essence, premises liability has to do with liability relating to premises that fall under your responsibility.
Lastly, let’s look at the notion of “assumption of risk.” Assumption of risk has to do with when you knowingly enter into a risky situation. For example, let’s say you are walking down the street and an open manhole is surrounded by rope. If you cut the rope and climb down the pothole, and injure yourself in the process, you will have a difficult time suing the city for damages—because you cut the rope that was there for safety, you “assumed the risk” of being injured in and around the pothole. Similarly, if you see a door marked “CAUTION—HOT WIRES INSIDE,” proceed to open the door, and then get burned by the hot wires, you assumed the risk associated with opening the door. Now, does this mean that there is an “assumption of risk” when you get in the car and drive on the highway? No; this term cannot be stretched like taffy. It is, however, a legitimate defense in certain situations and is thus one that you should be aware of.
If you have any other questions about any personal injury-related matters, please contact us at 561-266-9191 or email us at email@example.com.