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Negligence in Plain English

When something bad happens, the result can usually be traced back to a specific cause. This is where we get the idea of “blame.” Placing blame in the right place against the right parties and holding them accountable is the basic idea of negligence.

What is Negligence?

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, negligence is the “failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in a similar situation.” In English: negligence is basically carelessness. Someone had an obligation to act a certain way given their position, failed to do so, and that failure can be proven to be the cause of an injury.

For example, say you are at a grocery store. You walk into the produce section and slip on loose grapes that fell from their display, and fall . . . hard. You hit your head. Whose fault is that? Who must pay for your injuries? What if you miss time from work due to your injury? While each case is different, the possible players are quite obvious. You are at a grocery store. The company, individual owners, managers, employees, everyone could be partly to blame. Store owners have legal obligations to keep their property safe for guests. Thus, they also have obligations to conduct reasonable inspections to ensure the premises is safe from things (such as loose grapes) that could harm their guests. If a court determines that the store employees were negligent in not finding the mess and cleaning it up, you may have a viable claim.

Compensation & Comparative Negligence

What about compensation? If another person or entity is found at fault for injuring you, you may be entitled to compensation. This type of compensation depends on the severity of the injury and length of recovery, but often will include medical expenses, time lost from work, personal and emotional pain and suffering, and any other relevant costs. If you have long term disabilities, there may be opportunities to receive compensation for long-term care or loss of earning potential from your job.

This is a very basic example of a negligence claim. Most negligence claims you may have heard about in the media surround medical malpractice, drug liability, products liability, or roadway design flaws. You should not rule out the possibility of a viable legal claim, even if you feel you may have been partially responsible for what happened. South Carolina follows what is known as “comparative negligence,” which means as long as you were not more than 50 percent responsible for what happened, you can still recover damages. Your recovery will simply be reduced based on the amount you were deemed to have “contributed” to the accident. Example: you were talking on your cell phone when you slipped on the grapes and not paying attention. If a judge decides you were 20 percent at fault, whatever you were awarded will simply be reduced by 20 percent.

What if I Think I Have a Claim?

If you or anyone you know has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, our attorneys at Solomon Law Group are ready and willing to walk you through your legal options. The most important thing to remember about negligence claims is that they have very specific statutes of limitations, that is, time periods within which claims must be filed. If your claim “lapses,” or is not filed within that time period, your claim will be forever barred from litigation. Thus, it is critical to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Our South Carolina negligence attorneys serve the greater Columbia, South Carolina area and have the knowledge necessary to navigate this complex area of the law. Contact us today to take the first step in holding the right people accountable for their actions.

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