Legal Matters: The Role of Negligence in a Personal Injury Case

damaged concrete slabs caused by soil structure heave
Image via Adobe Stock.

By Dischell Bartle Dooley


Negligence is a key factor in personal injury cases. It occurs whenever a party — whether a person, company, employer, or manufacturer — fails to uphold the standard of care needed to avoid foreseeable harm to another person or their property. Generally speaking, when someone acts carelessly and causes an injury to another person, the careless person will be legally liable for any resulting harm.

Examples of personal injury negligence include:

Car Accidents

If a driver is speeding, not paying attention to the road, or driving under the influence and causes an accident resulting in injuries to another person, he or she may be held liable for personal injury negligence.

Slip and Fall Accidents

Property owners have a duty to maintain safe conditions on their premises. If a property owner fails to repair an uneven sidewalk or clear snow/ice from a walkway and someone slips and falls, the property owner may be liable for personal injury negligence.

Defective Products

If a manufacturer sells a defective product that causes harm or injury to a consumer, the manufacturer may be liable for personal injury negligence.

Medical Malpractice

If a healthcare provider fails to provide the appropriate standard of care, whether by misdiagnosis or an error in treatment, and their actions or inactions cause harm to a patient, the practitioner may be held liable for personal injury negligence.

Dog Bites

If a dog owner fails to control a pet and the dog bites someone, the owner may be held liable for personal injury negligence.

Workplace Accidents

Employers have a duty to provide a safe working environment. If an employer fails to maintain a safe workplace and an employee is injured as a result, the employer may be held liable for personal injury negligence.

There are four elements that must be established in order to prove a legal claim of negligence:

1. Duty

The defendant (the person accused of negligence) owed a legal duty to the plaintiff (the person injured) under the circumstances. The duty of care can vary depending on the situation and the relationship between the parties.

2. Breach

The defendant breached that legal duty by acting or failing to act as a reasonable person would have acted in the same situation. This is often determined by considering the applicable standard of care and comparing the defendant’s conduct to that standard.

3. Causation

It was the defendant’s actions (or inaction) that actually caused the plaintiff’s injuries. There are two types of causation: actual cause (that is, the defendant’s actions directly caused the injury) and proximate cause (that is, the defendant’s actions were a foreseeable cause of the injury).

4. Damages

The plaintiff was harmed or injured as a result of the defendant’s actions due to a breach of duty and causation. This can include physical injuries, emotional damage, and financial losses.

If the plaintiff can prove all these elements are present, they may be able to recover compensation for their damages. However, it’s important to note that the specific legal requirements for proving negligence can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the case facts.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to another’s negligence, it may be worth pursuing a legal claim — especially if medical bills were incurred or missed work resulted in lost income.

Consult an experienced personal injury attorney for guidance specific to your situation. Many attorneys offer complimentary consultations during which they can listen to your summary of events and decide whether you have a case.

Dischell Bartle Dooley

For over 45 years, the attorneys at Dischell Bartle Dooley have been providing excellent legal counsel across Southeastern Pennsylvania. With offices in Lansdale, Pottstown, and Boyertown, clients can access downtown-caliber attorneys close to home. DBD’s attorneys have an intimate knowledge of the region and the residents and are each well-recognized and respected in their practice areas. DBD represents all types of clients, including individuals, businesses, and government entities, in various legal areas — including personal injury litigation, family law, tax and business law, real estate law, estate planning, and more. Around the corner, in your corner — Dischell Bartle Dooley can support all your legal needs.

Stay Connected, Stay Informed

Subscribe for great stories in your community!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.