Many lay people may use the term “negligence” without fully understanding how the law defines it and how it is applied. Generally, “negligence” refers to the failure to exercise the appropriate level of care. So when someone says “so and so was negligent,” they are really saying that person did not act in a way that others generally act. While a violation of the law can be negligence, negligence does not require there to be a violation of the law.
American common law recognizes that a person injured by the negligence of others is entitled to compensation. The underlying policy behind the concept of negligence is that certain conduct involves a risk of harm to others that is greater than what society is willing to accept. Because of that risk of harm, the law makes the negligent person responsible for the resulting harms.
To be legally recognized as a negligence claim, the following elements must be proved:
- Duty: the defendant owed the injured person a duty recognized by the law
- Breach: the defendant breached that duty
- Damages: the defendant’s breach of that duty legally or proximately caused injuries
- Causation: the injury caused by defendant’s breach was foreseeable
Each of the foregoing concepts continue to be litigated, depending on the circumstances or as society changes. This is particularly with the concept of duty, since duty, as defined, is one that the law recognizes. Some states may recognize a particular duty, but not in other states. For example, Nevada does not recognize “dram shop” laws. Dram shop laws are laws that make a business that sells alcohol to a person who is obviously drunk liable if that person injures another. For example, if after leaving a bar, a drunk driver hits and kills someone, the victim’s family may be able to hold the bar responsible. While a majority of other states have such law, Nevada generally does not. See Hamm v. Carson City Nugget, Inc., 85 Nev. 99, 450 P.2d 358 (1969).
Negligence can give rise to the following common types of personal injury cases:
- Car accident cases
- Slip and fall accidents
- Premises Liability
- Medical Malpractice
- Commercial truck accident cases
In car accident cases, negligence is often expressed as a driver’s failure to exercise ordinary care. Usually, duty and breach of duty are not an issue in Las Vegas car accident cases. It is quite well settled law that a driver owes a legally-recognized duty to other drivers and pedestrians to exercise care when driving. What is kind of care is often answered by looking at the traffic laws and rules of the road. Nevada’s traffic laws and rules of the road can be found in Chapters 484, 484A, 484B, and 484C of the Nevada Revised Statutes.
What could be issues in Las Vegas car accident cases are damages and causation, particularly if there is not a lot of visible property damage. We’ve already discussed in another blog how insurance companies use low property damage to argue that someone could not be injured. This tactic of insurance companies is so prevalent that there is a name for it – “Minor Impact Soft Tissue” or MIST cases. Don’t be fooled by these arguments. Of course, the insurance companies’ goal is to pay as little as possible, and they do so by equating visible property damage to a person. But a person is not a car, is not built with metal, and every person is unique. Read more on how experienced Las Vegas car accident attorneys deal with the insurance companies MIST arguments.
If you or a loved one have been injured by the negligence of another, contact the Las Vegas personal injury attorneys of D.R. Patti & Associates. With a combined total of 50+ years of experience, our award-winning attorneys have handled many negligence cases arising from a variety of circumstances. We’ve handled the typical and less typical Las Vegas car accidents to commercial trucking accidents and have obtained millions of dollars on behalf of our clients. Call us today.