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Suppose you find yourself in an automobile accident that was not your fault, or you take a nasty fall in a grocery store because someone spilled a soda and the employees neglected to clean it up.
In both situations, you have suffered injuries because of the negligence of another person.
You may have an alarming level of medical expenses related to those injuries, and may have been unable to go to work because of the injuries.
How will you show that the person or entity responsible for your accident was negligent? Since nearly every personal injury case involves negligence and fault, it is important that you understand how you will prove negligence in your own personal injury case.
Was the Person Who Caused Your Accident Acting as a Reasonable Person Would Have Done?
The question in your personal injury case will be whether the defendant acted as a reasonable person would have done under similar circumstances. This means if you are suing the person who hit you in your automobile accident, the question will be whether the defendant was properly obeying traffic laws and driving as another reasonable person would have done under the same set of circumstances. If you are filing a claim against the grocery store where you fell, the question will be whether reasonable employees, under the same circumstances, and facing the same amount of time since the spill occurred, would have cleaned up the mess and avoided your accident.
Contributory Negligence vs. Comparative Negligence
Negligence occurs when a person acts in a reckless or careless manner, and those careless actions harm another person. While there are some issues regarding negligence which are the same from state to state, individual states have laws which regulate negligence. While there are two primary legal doctrines of negligence—contributory negligence and comparative negligence—there are few states which still operate under traditional contributory negligence. Contributory negligence means that any fault on the part of the plaintiff bars that plaintiff from recovering for his or her losses. This is true even if the plaintiff was 2 percent negligent and the defendant was 98 percent negligent. Most states, including Mississippi, operate under comparative negligence, which allows a plaintiff to recover even if the plaintiff was partially at fault.
Pure or Modified Comparative Negligence?
Under the theory of comparative negligence, some states have “pure” comparative negligence, while others have “modified” comparative negligence. Under pure comparative negligence—which Mississippi has—the plaintiff is able to collect from the defendant even if he or she is found to be 99 percent liable for the accident. This means that if you were found to be 75 percent responsible for the automobile accident, and your injuries were worth $20,000, you could collect $5,000 from the defendant for the 25 percent of his or her liability. Under modified comparative fault, a plaintiff may only recover if he or she is found to be less than 50 or 51 percent at fault (depending on the state).
Proving Negligence in the State of Mississippi
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may rely on the legal doctrine of res ipsa loquitur—Latin for “the thing speaks for itself.” Under this theory the jury in your case may infer the defendant acted in a negligent manner, even with no proof of that negligence. You, the plaintiff, would be required to show that what happened to you would not normally happen, absent clear negligence. In order to show negligence occurred in your case, there are specific elements you must prove. These elements include:
- Duty—You must first show the defendant owed you a specific duty;
- Breach of Duty—You must then show the defendant breached the duty he or she owed you;
- Causation—You must show the defendant’s actions were directly responsible for your injuries;
- Proximate cause—This relates to the scope of the defendant’s responsibility—the defendant is only responsible for the harm he or she could have foreseen through his or her actions, and
- Damages—It must be shown that the defendant’s failure to act in a reasonable manner resulted in your actual damages.
Even if you believe all the elements for a negligence claim are present, an experienced attorney is necessary to make a compelling case on your behalf.
Contact Our Jackson Personal Injury Lawyers
If you are involved in an accident in Jackson, Hattiesburg, Meridian, or anywhere in the State of Mississippi, the best thing you can do is to contact an experienced Mississippi personal injury attorney who will protect your rights and assist you in receiving a fair settlement for your injuries.
At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys believe in fighting aggressively for injured Mississippi accident victims – to ensure that they receive the money they need to fully recover. We can help you obtain the money you need to fully recover. today at 1-601-948-1600 or 1-877-231-1600.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.