Determining Fault in a Personal Injury Case

One of the things that must happen in any personal injury case is that fault must be determined. The courts have to decide who was actually negligent – the property owner or manager, or the person who had the accident in the first place. Woodridge personal injury lawyers may talk to you about a legal term called “foreseeability”, which means whether or not the injury could have been avoided had the uninjured party done something differently in the situation. Here’s a great example:

Say a car accident occurs, and you are rear-ended, resulting in whiplash. If you slammed on your brakes to avoid an animal right before being rear-ended, the court could conceivably say that the fault was yours. But what if the driver behind you was speeding, or texting, at the time? Then there is a chance that they could have avoided you if they had been following the law or paying attention. In other words, it is foreseeable that, had their actions been different, you would not have been injured.

Why Does This Term Matter?

Unfortunately, personal injury cases can be hard to prove. It is easy to argue in the above situation that by slamming on your brakes, you were at least equally responsible for the injury. The court considers two different factors when determining whether or not liability could be the other party’s fault:

  • What the type of harm foreseeable? If the injury occurred due to actions that could not likely have been prevented in other circumstances, then the person who caused the injury is not held liable. So in the above example, if the person who rear-ended you were paying attention and following all traffic laws, but couldn’t avoid you due to surrounding traffic, then they would not be found at fault. 
  • Was the manner of harm foreseeable? If the person’s actions didn’t cause harm directly but instead led to an event that caused harm, and that event was not foreseeable, then the person would not be considered liable.

As you can see, this can be very complicated. Courts must carefully weigh whether or not injury would have occurred should the other party’s actions have been different – and that means a lot of thinking in “what ifs”. If you want to protect your interests, you’ll need great Woodridge personal injury lawyers on your side. Call Covone Law at (708) 246-4911 to learn more.

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