When people act carelessly, others get hurt. Personal injury lawsuits come about because someone’s failure to use reasonable care resulted in an injury to someone else. Under CA civil laws, a person can be held legally liable for damages he causes because of his negligence. As a personal injury attorney I see all kinds of accidents which could easily have been avoided if the person at fault had acted responsibly.
When determining if a person’s conduct was negligent, the foreseeability test is applied. That means someone is liable in a personal injury claim only when his actions could foreseeably have resulted in harm.
What Does Foreseeability Mean in Personal Injury Claims?
When the risk created by someone’s conduct causes harm to the another, he or she is liable for related damages. A person of ordinary intelligence should be able to anticipate when his actions, or inactions, present a risk to others. Who determines whether the person who caused someone’s injury should have reasonably foreseen the consequences of his actions, or inactions?
According to Burns v. Neiman Marcus Group, Inc., foreseeability must be determined by the trier of fact in light of all the circumstances. In personal injury cases, the trier of fact is usually a jury. Essentially, the jury will consider:
- Could the defendant have predicted his conduct would be harmful or high risk.
- Was the resulting injury a predictable or likely outcome of the defendant’s conduct.
One area where foreseeability does not matter, however, is with regard to the extent of harm a victim might sustain. The eggshell plaintiff rule establishes that a defendant is liable as long as harm was foreseeable. The actual harm he causes, even if disproportionately severe due to the victim’s health, is irrelevant.
For example, let’s assume someone is texting while driving and causes a car accident. That driver would be liable for the victim’s injuries, because it was foreseeable that his actions could cause a collision. If the victim of the accident has brittle bone disease he may sustain multiple bone fractures even from a minor car crash. The defendant could not have foreseen that, but is still responsible for all the victim’s damages. It was foreseeable that distracted driving could lead to a crash even if the extent of the victim’s harm wasn’t.
How Can You Prove Foreseeability
To prove foreseeability, a victim needs to show that a reasonable person in the defendant’s position would have been able to anticipate that a particular action, or failure to act, would create a dangerous condition.
Victims can do this by presenting evidence the defendant acting negligently. For instance, showing he was driving after drinking, or that he failed to properly repair known hazards on his property. In addition, the victim can use eyewitness testimony to independently corroborate the circumstances surrounding the accident. Expert testimony can demonstrate why the accident was a likely outcome of the defendant’s conduct.
Foreseeability is an especially big issue in premises liability claims for negligent security. Victims claiming a defendant was liable for inadequate security, need to show there was a substantial risk at the property for an act of violence. Showing a history of burglaries and/or violent actions in the area would be helpful to prove the foreseeability in this type of case.
How Can a Long Beach Personal Injury Attorney Help?
Your Injuries are Personal to Me
My practice is dedicated to representing victims of personal injury accidents. Your injuries are personal to me so I will directly handle every aspect of your case to get you the maximum compensation you deserve.
Call the Law Office of Michael D. Waks at 888-394-1174 or use the convenient online contact form to schedule a free consultation to speak with a Long Beach personal injury attorney to learn how I can help you if you’ve suffered an accidental injury.
You will be under no obligation and you will never pay any money unless you recover compensation for your losses.
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