The Pittsburgh personal injury and medical malpractice attorneys of Dattilo Law Offices, P.C. represent clients in tort cases involving negligence. Negligence describes a broad range of conduct and circumstances where a responsibility exists to protect others from harm. Examples of civil cases based on negligence might include injuries that result from the following:
- Motor vehicle collisions
- Airplane crashes
- Pharmacy error
- Truck accident injuries
- Plant explosions
- Construction site injuries
- Construction defects
- Boating accidents
- Nursing home negligence
- Surgical errors
- Playground accidents
- School bus accidents
- Railroad crossing accidents
- Power line injuries
In civil litigation, a case based on negligence refers to one party seeking compensation for injury or damages caused by another negligent party. Elements must be present that show actions fell below standards regarded by law as reasonable, and that those actions resulted in injury or a failure to protect a person from harm.
The following elements must exist and be proven in a negligence case:
Duty of Care
A relationship exists between parties that obliges one party to act in a certain way or to have a duty of care toward the other party. The duty is compared to a standard of care that a reasonable person would use under similar circumstances. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, financial consultants, and other professionals owe a duty of care to their clients. An automobile driver owes a duty of care to other drivers to drive in a safe manner that abides by the law and adheres to safety precautions expected of any reasonable driver. In a negligence case, the lawyer must prove that a duty of care existed. This element answers the question, Did a duty of care exist?
Breach of Duty
When a duty of care exists and the individual acted unreasonably or failed to act reasonably according to accepted standards, a breach of duty has occurred. Examples of breaches of duty include:
- A doctor who fails to diagnose an illness that reasonable doctors would have diagnosed under standards set by the medical profession
- A lawyer who violates the client attorney privilege of confidentiality which results in harming the client
- A driver who speeds, runs a red light and causes an accident
Cause in Fact
Causation must be proven that one party’s negligence resulted in the other party’s injury. Cause in fact is often referred to as the “but-for” test:
- But for the action of the negligent party, the injury would never have occurred.
- But for the car speeding and running the red light, the car accident and subsequent injury would not have occurred.
Predictability is the most common test for proximate cause.
- Could the harm have been predicted?
- Did the cause in a natural and continuous sequence produce the injury?
Proximate cause addresses the scope of responsibility and if a foreseen damage occurred that could have been prevented. Here is an example:
The captain of a ship navigates through known dangerous waters that he should have avoided, causing the ship to hit a rock, which tears a hole in the hull and sinks the ship. A crew member drowns when the ship sinks. The surviving family of the crew member sues for negligence based on proximate cause.
Actual damages must have occurred, such as injury that resulted from the negligent action. There are no grounds for a case if no damage or injury was caused by the negligence. In the above example, if no one had drowned, a wrongful death claim based on negligence would not have been possible.
The Pittsburgh personal injury lawyers of Dattilo Law Offices, P.C. provides effective representation for many different types of negligence cases involving physical injury, emotional pain and suffering, loss of earnings, loss of life, damage to reputation, or damage to a business, assets, or property.
We will arrange a consultation at no cost to evaluate the circumstances of your injury or damages and discuss the prospects for representation in a cause of action based on negligence. We represent negligence cases on a contingency basis, so you owe nothing until we recover on your behalf. Please contact our Pittsburgh, PA medical malpractice lawyers online or phone our law office at 412-391-6300 to arrange an appointment.