When parties fail to act with reasonable care, they could be liable for injuries and damages caused by their conduct under tort law. A tort is conduct by a party that causes harm or injury to an individual. Liability arises when a party breaches the duty of care, and that breach causes an injury or death.
Personal injury cases are a common example of tort claims. Most personal injury cases fall into one of four types of liability claims:
Negligence is a common legal cause for personal injury claims. Proving liability under the legal their of negligence requires that you prove each of the following four elements:
The duty of care may be created because of a law, morality, custom, or personal commitment. It is the duty to perform specific conduct.
For example, property owners owe a duty of care to maintain safe premises for guests and invitees to avoid injuries. Likewise, drivers have a duty to obey traffic laws to avoid causing car accidents.
A breach of duty is judged by comparing the party’s conduct to the conduct of a “reasonable person.” The reasonable person standard used in a case depends on the facts and circumstances of the case.
Jurors determine what a reasonably prudent person would have done in the same situation. If the defendant’s conduct fell short of a reasonable standard of care, the jurors may find the defendant breached the duty of care.
The injured party must also prove that the defendant’s conduct caused their injury and they sustained damages because of the injury. All four elements must link together to create a chain of causation to create negligence and liability.
Strict liability is similar to general negligence. The injured party has the burden of proving that the at-fault party caused their injury and that they sustained damages as a result. However, the injured person does not need to prove negligence or intent to hold the at-fault party liable for damages.
Strict liability might apply in cases involving:
Many product liability cases involve strict liability. If you can prove a product was defective and that defect caused your injury, the manufacturer or designer could be held strictly liable for damages.
There could be exceptions if the consumer used the product for purposes other than its intended purpose or knowingly used the product in a dangerous manner.
Some activities are abnormally dangerous, meaning they pose a high risk of injury or death to the public. Consequently, a party engaged in these activities could be held strictly liable for injuries and damages if an accident occurs, even though they exercised reasonable care to avoid an accident.
New York is a “mixed” strict liability state for dog bite claims. If a ” dangerous dog ” bites someone, a dog owner can be held strictly liable for medical bills. A “dangerous dog” is generally a dog that has injured, killed, or attacked a person, pet, or farm animal.
Vicarious liability can result in liability for a party that did not participate in the negligent conduct. For example, employers may be vicariously liable for damages caused by an employee who injures someone during the ordinary course of employment.
For example, a delivery truck driver causes a car accident. As a result, the delivery company could be liable for damages. Likewise, a business owner could be liable if an employee causes an injury by dropping an object on a customer.
A person can be held liable if they intentionally cause injury or harm to another person. Civil liability is separate from any criminal charges that could be brought for the person’s actions.
Examples of intentional torts include:
The injured party has the burden of proving that the person acted with the specific intent to cause harm. Otherwise, intentional tort liability might not apply.
If the injured party’s negligence contributed to the cause of the injury, New York’s contributory negligence laws might reduce the amount of compensation for damages. Contributory negligence may apply in all types of personal injury claims.
For example, suppose a jury determines that you were distracted when a person pulled out in front of your car. The jury assigns 20 percent of the blame for the accident to you. In that case, your compensation for damages would be reduced by 20 percent.
Many personal injury claims are covered by insurance. The types of insurance that might cover an injury or accident include:
However, the insurance company’s liability depends on the coverage limits and the insurance policy terms. If a person does not have insurance coverage, they are personally liable for damages. Also, if their insurance policy does not cover the full amount of damages, they can be held personally liable for the remaining amount.
If another party caused your injury, you deserve to be compensated for your financial losses and damages. Our Bronx personal injury attorneys review your case free of charge to provide legal advice and discuss options for recovering compensation after an accident or injury. Contact our law firm to schedule your free consultation.