What Does “Negligence” Actually Mean in an Injury Case?

Negligence in an Injury CaseIf you have been injured in an accident, you most likely have heard of the term “negligence.” However, you may be confused about exactly what it means even though you know it is very important for your case.

According to Cornell Law School, the definition of negligence is “the failure to behave with the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under the same circumstances.” Therefore, if a motorist, employer, company, or property owner does not behave with the same care that a reasonable person or party would, they are considered negligent. Tulsa laws require you to prove this in order to file a claim and collect compensation in a personal injury case.

How is negligence defined in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma statute identifies three separate types of negligence in its civil code – slight, ordinary and gross:

  • “Slight negligence consists in the want of great care and diligence;
  • Ordinary negligence in the want of ordinary care and diligence; and
  • Gross negligence in the want of slight care and diligence.”

The levels increase in severity while encompassing the lesser acts.

The State’s criminal statute, however, defines negligence similarly to the Cornell definition: “The terms ‘neglect,’ ‘negligence,’ ‘negligent’ and ‘negligently,’ when so employed, import a want of such attention to the nature or probable consequences of the act or omission as a prudent man ordinarily bestows in acting in his own concerns.”

What are examples of negligent behavior?

The harsh reality is that people act negligently almost every single day, and most do not even realize it. Here are some common examples of negligent behavior:

  • Running a red light: Traffic lights are put in place to ensure that every motorist that is stopped at an intersection gets a turn to go without crashing into each other. When a person speeds up or fails to stop at a red light, they are acting negligently and putting other drivers at risk of an accident.
  • Speeding: Another common example of negligent behavior that occurs frequently is driving over the speed limit. No matter where one is driving, there are signs that let you know how fast you are legally allowed to drive. Therefore, if a driver goes over the posted speed limit, they put themselves and others around them in danger, which can be seen as negligence.
  • Failing to provide safety equipment to workers: Construction companies or any other type of company that entails dangerous work must provide safety equipment to their workers. Failing to do so is considered negligent because it is their duty to make sure that their workers remain safe and harm-free while on the job.
  • Texting while driving: All too often people get behind the wheel and pick up their phones to read, write, or send messages. This is negligent because a driver’s eyes and attention are not on the task at hand — driving. However, it may not be considered negligent to use a hands-free device because you can still pay attention and are less likely to harm other drivers or pedestrians while using this type of device.
  • Allowing your dog to run around unleashed: Per Tulsa’s animal ordinances, “all dogs must be on a leash or under physical control” when their owners take them off their property. Even if a dog is not usually aggressive, one never knows how they might react to certain people that they encounter. If someone allows their dog to run unleashed and they bite someone, they will be considered negligent because it was their responsibility to ensure that the dog did not bite anyone.
  • Stopping or parking in a bicycle lane: Stopping or parking in a bicycle lane is negligent because those lanes have been created specifically for bicyclists. When a bicyclist cannot use the lane that a person is parked in, they must go around the vehicle, which puts them in harm’s way.
  • Failing to stop at a crosswalk: Crosswalks are specifically designed for pedestrians who need to cross a busy road or intersection. Therefore, if drivers do not stop at a crosswalk and hit a pedestrian, they are acting negligently.
  • Allowing new and inexperienced workers to begin working without training: Business owners must train their workers on what to do before allowing them to begin working. If an employer fails to provide adequate training and an employee is injured, they can be found negligent as they were supposed to ensure that their workers understood how to correctly do the tasks without getting hurt.

How do you prove negligence?

In order to prove negligence, you and your Tulsa injury attorney will need to establish four elements, which include:

  • Duty: You must prove that the defendant had a legal responsibility or duty to act in a certain way or to do something specific. For example, a motor vehicle driver has a duty to abide by all traffic laws while driving in Tulsa, OK.
  • Breach: Breaching a duty means that a person or company failed to uphold or follow through with their responsibilities. For example, if a truck driver continues to drive even though they are over the federal hours-of-service regulation, they have breached their duty.
  • Causation: You must be able to show proof that the breach directly caused your accident and injuries.
  • Damages: Lastly, you will need to prove that you suffered damages, such as medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.

How difficult is it to prove negligence?

Negligence can be very difficult to prove. However, our Tulsa personal injury attorneys can help you prove your case.  One thing you can do to help yourself is document your entire accident as well as the aftermath. This means keeping a journal, which provides details and insight about what happened during the accident, what type of injuries you sustained, and how your recovery process is going. Medical bills, witness statements, photographs, doctor reports, and video footage are also essential to proving negligence in a personal injury case. Our attorneys can help you gather the proper evidence.

If you suffer injuries from an accident and need help proving or understanding negligence, the Tulsa personal injury lawyers at Biby Law Firm are ready and available to assist you. We are experienced, skilled, and knowledgeable in any type of injury case. Therefore, when you work with our team, you can have peace of mind knowing that we have what it takes to stand up and fight for you. Call our office or submit our contact form to schedule your free consultation today.