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Legal Terms to Know

As you enter the personal injury process, there are probably a lot of unknown factors that you are facing. This can be overwhelming and make you nervous about your case. Understanding some basic legal terms can give you confidence in your personal injury case and can help you determine who is responsible for your injuries. On this page, I will discuss a few basic terms to help you with your personal injury case.

Duty of Care and Breach of Duty

Duty of care is the responsibility that one person has not to harm another person. For example, when you drive a car, you have a duty of care not to cause an accident that harms someone else.

Elevator owners and technicians have a duty of care to keep passengers safe. If this duty of care is violated, it is referred to as a “breach of duty”. If breach of duty occurs, that party could be held responsible (found “at fault” or “liable” for the injuries). But, you need to prove both duty of care and breach of duty in court to proceed to liability/fault.

Negligence

Injuries that result from accidents are rarely purposeful – that’s why they are called accidents. If you ever caused some kind of accident, you know that this is the case. The person who caused the accident likely feels terrible and didn’t mean any harm. But, this does not mean that they are not responsible. Many accidents occur because of negligence, which basically refers to carelessness on the part of the person who caused the accident. For example, if an elevator owner is putting off maintenance, and an accident occurs as a result, this can be seen as negligence on the part of the owner.

Fault/Liability

If you have read any other pages on this website, you are probably familiar with the term “fault”. It is fairly simple to determine what this word means – a person is “at fault” in a personal injury case if they caused injury to the plaintiff. While this seems simple, it is a little more complex in a legal context. Fault, or liability, is defined this way, but proving that a person is responsible for another person’s injuries can be a little more difficult.

When an accident occurs, another person is not always responsible. For example, if you were injured because you stood in front of closing elevator doors to see what would happen, this isn’t necessarily the fault of the elevator owner or installation team. The elevator might be working fine, but if you misuse it, the fault of the injury falls with you.

In order to prove fault or liability in court, you need to prove that another person is responsible for your injuries and that the accident was not your fault. For example, if you trip over your feet and hit your head on the elevator, that is your fault. But if you trip because the elevator is misleveled with the building floor, that is someone else’s fault (the elevator likely wasn’t installed or maintained correctly).

All of these terms might contribute to a personal injury case. For more assistance defining these terms and determining how they relate to your situation, contact our office.