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Duty of Care and Personal Injury

Negligence is a basis for many successful personal injury claims and when negligence is proven, what the defendant did or didn’t do to constitute it often hinges on what is called a “duty of reasonable care.”

What is a duty of reasonable care? That can be a tricky nut to crack. Often, definitions of negligence differ from circumstance to circumstance based on conditions, relationships of individuals involved. So it is often necessary to contact an experienced personal injury attorney when you have a question about liability or fault in an accident.

For instance, a man walks into a home that is being remodeled and clearly marked as a construction site to inquire about a contractor’s services or a job with the contracting company or any innocuous question about the residence. When he knocks on the door there is no answer. He finds no one in the foyer, yet he enters further and calls out to find anyone who might be around. In the process he knocks over a scaffold, injuring himself in the process. Is he likely to receive a personal injury claim as a result? The answer is likely not. The man entered a clearly marked construction site without authorization. He took no precaution in wearing a hard hat or reasonable care when in the space and as such, his own actions constituted negligence.

However, if on the same construction site, in the process of patching a wall, a dry waller brushes against live wires protruding from an unfinished electrical box and suffers electric shock and burns in the process, based on the responsibility of the construction company which maintains the site provide a reasonably safe work environment for each of its workers and because reasonable care was not maintained in allowing live wires to be exposed on the site, the dry waller would likely have a personal injury claim for damages, which could include medical treatment, loss of income, loss of consortium and pain and suffering.

Obviously, a term like “reasonable” is considered is subjective on and may differ slightly from court to court. But in the basic negligence rule, everyone must take “reasonable care” to avoid injury to others.

There are circumstances that present inherent dangers and courts often assert that individuals in some cases have a common understanding of the dangers involved. But when neglect creates the opportunity for those circumstances to lead to injury the guilty party is typically held liable for damages.

Take a professional basketball game, for instance. Audience members on the court must understand that sitting on the court comes with inherent risks. If, for instance, a 7 ft. 1”, 295 lbs center runs to keep a ball from flying out of bounds and in the process of catching it slams into guests seated on the court, it may be difficult for those ticket holders to recover damages because the player was behaving in a way that is typical of the game and could be considered reasonable.

If, however, the same player, in an anger-fueled rant, throws a chair or a ball into the bench and ends up hitting a ticket-holder seated on the court, the act could be considered by a court as negligent and lead to the awarding of damages if the ticket-holder is injured.

Proving negligence can be difficult in any personal injury case. If you need assistance in filing a personal injury claim in a car accident case or other injury matter, call the experienced attorneys of Panio Law Offices in Chicago at 773.881.9000. Whether it’s documenting evidence, locating witnesses, or garnering expert testimony to demonstrate fault, we have a wealth of experience in proving fault in these cases. We often recover the highest damages to which our clients are entitled. Call us, we can help.

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