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Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer | Panio Law Offices

Negligence and Personal Injury

In most personal injury cases, the plaintiff must demonstrate negligence in order to recover damages.

"Negligence" is a legal term that simply means an individual behaved in a careless or thoughtless way, which can open them up to liability should that negligence give way to harm or damage. Negligence may be shown in either the action or inaction of others. For instance, a driver may speed recklessly through a school zone or a driver may fail to yield to a child in the same school zone while driving at a reasonable rate of speed. In both cases the driver is likely guilty of negligence.

The fact is drivers have a duty to act in a responsible manner when behind the wheel of a car. This duty or responsibility is sometimes called a "duty of reasonable care." Of course, all drivers have a responsibility to observe to rules of the road in their state or local municipality, but they also have a distinct responsibility to maintain safe driving practices should road conditions change to warrant it.

For example, if a highway's speed limit is published at 35 mph, yet weather conditions at the time of an accident included heavy rain and sleet providing slippery surfaces and low visibility. The responsibility of the driver should have been to proceed more slowly and approach road conditions more carefully. Failure to do that would expose the driver and his/her insurer to liability should an accident result and injury or damages occur.

If, in fact, both drivers act irresponsibly then the fault for resulting injuries may be shared by both drivers. The applicable theory of legal liability then becomes comparative negligence. Proving negligence is, not the only basis, however, for a personal injury claim. Claimants must also prove not only that the other party was indeed negligent but also that they themselves suffered injuries and/or damage.

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