You’ve had a slip and fall accident… or maybe a car accident… You’re injured. Do you have a claim against the party responsible for your injury? The answer inevitably comes back to whether the other party’s negligence caused your injury? So what is negligence?
Law schools in Ontario dedicate an entire semester to this question. However, in layman’s terms negligence is the failure of one party to take reasonable care. As in all legal matters, it is rarely quite as easy as it first seems. There are three critical considerations in assessing whether someone has been negligent or not: (1) did the allegedly negligent party owe a duty to take reasonable care (the duty of care), if so (2) did the allegedly negligent party breach the standard of care owed by him/her (standard of care), and if so (3) did the allegedly negligent party’s failure to take care cause the claimant’s injuries (causation).
It is often easy to determine whether a duty of care exists. For example, we all know that driver’s have a duty to take reasonable care when driving on a public roadway, or that a homeowner has a duty to maintain his or her property. In some cases – as in the case of the homeowner’s duty to maintain his property – the duty of care comes from legislation (i.e. the Occupier’s Liability Act). In other cases the duty of care comes from previous decisions of the Court, known as the common law.
Once a duty of care has been established, we must consider whether, on the facts of your particular case, the other party breached the standard of care owed by them to you. In most cases the standard of care is that of a reasonably prudent person. However, different standards of care may apply in different circumstances. Whether the other party has breached the standard of care will be a highly fact dependent consideration. We urge you to contact one of our experienced personal injury lawyers to discuss your case.
Finally, there must be a causal link between the other party’s negligent conduct and your injury. It goes without saying, that the other party is only responsible (liable) for the injuries that were caused by their negligence.
Not every injury will give rise to a claim of negligence. To be successful you will need to establish that the other party’s negligence (failure to take reasonable care) caused your injury.
The foregoing is for informational purposes only, and is not intended as legal advice. Please call one of our experienced personal injuries lawyers today to arrange a free consultation.