What does it mean to prove that someone was "negligent?"

Every profession has its own language. Attorneys are no exception. When somebody is injured because of another person's careless behavior, then the injured person has a claim for "negligence." The term "negligence" simply means that a person was acting carelessly, are not reasonably careful under the circumstances. There are many ways to show that somebody acted negligently.

In Oregon, a person can be found negligent if they acted unreasonably under the circumstances, and that as a result, somebody suffered foreseeable harm. In other words, the careless party should have known that by doing whatever they did, are not doing what they should have, a certain kind of injury could have resulted. This rule is in place because it would be impossible to write a safety rule for every possible way a person cannot carelessly.

In other cases, a person may be found negligent because of their relationship with the injured party. For example, attorneys have a special responsibility to their clients, and doctors have a special responsibility to their patients. In Oregon, we call this a "special relationship." If a person that has a "special relationship" with another person has a higher responsibility to make sure they do their job correctly. If they do not meet that responsibility, then they can be held responsible for their negligence.

There are statutes and rules that also determine whether somebody is careless. In an auto collision injury case for example, if a person violates the basic rule (speeding) or fails to keep a proper lookout for other vehicles on the road, that person has violated a couple of statutes in the motor vehicle code, and as a result, they are negligent as a matter of law. Attorneys like to call this a claim of "negligence per se." Statutes and rules can be used to prove that somebody was negligent per se if the harm that resulted was the type the statute intended to prevent, and the person who was injured was a member of the class of people that the Legislature intended to protect bypassing the statute.  So, if a motorist is injured because of another motorist speeding are not looking out for other cars on the road, the injured motorist suffered the kind a harm that the Legislature sought to prevent, and is obviously one of the people of the Legislature intended to protect.

In some cases, negligent behavior is obvious because somebody broke a rule, or even admitted that they were at fault. However, there are cases where parties do not agree on the issue of negligence, and we will have to work very hard to establish the responsibility of the defendant.

If you have been injured, and you believe that another person was careless and caused your injury, call us at 503-325-8600. We can review your case, and let you know if you have a viable claim. Even if you do not need an attorney, we can give you some ideas on how you can pursue your claim.

Joe Di Bartolomeo
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Joe Di Bartolomeo is a top rated personal injury lawyer helping Oregon and Washington families