The Role Of Foreseeability In Personal Injury Law
Foreseeability is one of the most basic components of most personal injury cases. This is the idea that a liable party should make every possible effort to prevent foreseeable issues from injuring people. Let's look at how this might factor into your conversations with a personal injury lawyer and the claims process.
Most elements of the law demand some degree of reasonableness. Think of the classic slip-and-fall case at a grocery store. An employee who just cleaned the floor should reasonably understand that someone might slip on the wet surface, and most reasonable people would expect the employee to post a warning sign. Consequently, there would be probably liability if there wasn't a sign and a customer slipped on the wet floor.
Reasonableness changes as circumstances change. For example, most folks don't have a reasonable expectation that a defendant could protect people from lightning. However, that sense of reasonableness changes if there have been storm warnings all day and an outdoor event company decides to keep people outside. It isn't always easy to determine where the line is, but that's also one of the reasons America has courts and juries.
Warnings and History
The more foreknowledge of a problem a defendant has, the worse their liability is probably going to be. Suppose the owner of a student housing complex knew that a handrail on the second floor was loose. If someone leaned against the rail only to have it give and send them falling to an injury, most people would consider the accident highly foreseeable.
A personal injury attorney also has an easier time presenting a claim or suit if there's a long history. If a city has spent years sending notices to a business to fix a sidewalk, for example, that evidence looks worse once someone trips on the sidewalk.
There are some exceptions. On the defendant's side of the ledger, they might not have any liability to start with. People aren't liable to prevent all things. For example, a homeowner in most states isn't liable if an intruder trips and is injured.
On the plaintiff's side of the ledger, there is a concept called strict liability. Defendants are strictly liable for injuries arising from presumed dangerous activities. If a land clearance company uses explosives to remove stumps, for example, it is strictly liable if any pieces fly off and hit bystanders. The defendant often accepts total liability for the incident, regardless of efforts to prevent harm. They also must pay for all resulting injuries.
Reach out to a law firm such as Cartee & Lloyd Attorneys At Law to find out more.