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One often hears the phrase, “but I didn’t mean to…it was an accident!” In the normal course of everyday life, the act of causing someone minor harm — stepping on someone’s toe, knocking someone’s bag out of their hand , etc. — can be excused if it was accidental. The same rules do not necessarily apply in the legal world, where the harm is often much greater and the accident was the result of a serious lack of judgment. Most personal injury claims that arise out of accidents are based in the law of negligence, which is the legal theory that assigns blame and assesses damages. Below, we will cover the basics of legal fault and its remedies. For more information about how we can help with your case, please contact our Laurel accident law firm.
Under the law of negligence, individuals expose themselves to legal liability (i.e., fault) when they cause others injury by engaging in conduct that falls outside certain socially-expected norms. To prove negligence, a plaintiff must prove each of its four elements:
An experienced Laurel accident law firm can evaluate your accident in light of the law of negligence and help to determine the strength of your case. Readers should note, however, that Maryland is a contributory negligence jurisdiction, meaning that plaintiffs who were partially at fault for their own injuries can’t recover damages. It is thus essential for plaintiffs in Maryland to prove that the defendant was 100% at fault to recover.
After determining that the defendant was legally at fault for the accident, the next step is to quantify the victim’s damages that the defendant will pay to the plaintiff. There is no fixed amount of damages that an injured plaintiff is entitled to receive. Rather, the goal of awarding damages in personal injury cases is to make the plaintiff “whole, ” or to put the plaintiff in the same position he or she would have been in had the accident not occurred. To do so, courts award two main types of damages: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are designed to compensate the victim for discrete categories of economic losses such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damages. Compensatory damages can also include damages for non-economic injuries such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life. Punitive damages, meanwhile, are designed to punish the defendant if the court finds that his or her conduct was particularly vicious or intentional.
If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you should speak to an attorney to evaluate your case. To get started, contact the Law Offices of Thomas E. Pyles — a Laurel accident law firm — by calling 301-723-7076 or filling out our online form.