Negligence vs. Recklessness in Personal Injury: What You Need to Know

Accidents happen, but it’s rare that no-one’s at fault in a personal injury issue.

Serious injuries can result in loss of earnings, medical expenses, and even permanent disability, so it’s never a good idea to blame it on bad luck and walk away.

It’s not unusual for people to seek compensation when wronged. During August 2020. over 12,000 personal injury cases saw the light of day in US courts.  

You deserve compensation for your suffering. Yet there’s something you need to know about before you proceed, and that’s the small matter of negligence vs recklessness.

Negligence vs Recklessness Defined

Negligence and recklessness fall in the realm of both criminal and civil law. That’s because some of these acts are illegal as well as plain careless.

in most cases, when someone’s broken the law, the justice system will deal with them in a manner fitting the crime. If you want compensation for your pain and suffering, you’ll need to institute a civil case against the perpetrator.

What is Negligence?

Negligence means behaving in a way where you should have known better i.e. you should have known that there was a risk of negative consequences. The negligent person didn’t necessarily know with certainty that harm would occur, only that it could.

In other words, they took a chance.

Some of the things an attorney will consider in these cases are:

  • Did the other party owe it to you to act carefully?
  • If so, did they breach that duty?
  • Did harm occur?
  • Did the other person cause that harm?

Criminal negligence refers to negligent activities that are also illegal. 

What is Recklessness?

Recklessness occurs when a person knows without a doubt that harm may occur as a result of their actions. Yet, they acted that way regardless of the consequences to others.

In most cases, an attorney would consider this in the light of what a reasonable law-abiding person would do.

Reckless Disregard vs Negligence

As an example, let’s consider reckless driving vs negligent driving.

Negligent driving is when someone pulls away from a stop sign and collides with a pedestrian because they didn’t see them. Reckless driving is when you knowingly drive a car under the influence of alcohol and injure another person.

Both these actions are illegal, and the culprit may face jail time or a fine, or both. However, if the injured party wants compensation for their suffering, that’s a matter for the civil courts.

Pursuing a Civil Case for Personal Injury 

While only the criminal justice system may prosecute someone for criminal negligence or recklessness. Anyone may pursue a personal injury claim for either of these misdemeanors.

So, if you want some cash back for your losses, medical bills, or suffering, it’s up to you. 

You don’t need to engage a lawyer if you want to pursue a civil case. However, these matters can get complicated, especially if you’re going up against a large entity such as a major corporation or if there’s wrongful death involved. See here for more details.  

Here’s how to go about instituting a civil case for personal injury:

Get Help

The first and most obvious thing to do when you or a loved one’s injured is to get medical help.

Ask your doctor to make detailed notes about your afflictions and ask for copies of these. You should also keep records of all the expenses you incur as a result of these injuries. 

Start Legal Proceedings

Make an appointment with a lawyer as soon as you can. It’s best to choose someone with experience personal injury cases similar to yours. 

Many lawyers specialize in specific types of personal injury cases, such as wrongful death, medical malpractice, and so on. 

Every personal injury case is unique. However, certain steps are common to them all. These its what to expect:

1. Summons and Complaint

This first step involves filing a complaint with the courts. This document usually contains the identities of all the parties involved as well as the nature of the grievance. 

It concludes with a request to the court to do something about the issue i.e enter a judgment.

2. The Answer

The defendant receives a notification requesting that they answer the claims made against them. Sometimes this results in a counterclaim. This means they want to assert their own claims against the plaintiff

3. Discovery

During this phase, the parties request certain information from each other to build their cases. This is so that everyone has access to the same information when they go to court.

This is often a lengthy process involving a lot of back and forth between the parties. 

4. Motions

Once they have all the information they need the parties sometimes ask the court to make some decision before the case commences. This could involve simple things like a change of venue. In some cases, the motion could result in the termination of the case.

5. Pre-Trail Negotiations

To save the time and money involved in going to court, the parties’ lawyers negotiate with one another to try and achieve consensus. This is basically a bargaining phase.

Sometimes the lawyers may involve a third party to help them settle the matter out of court.

6. Trial

Civil trials may involve a judge or a jury. During the trial, both parties present all the evidence and argue their cases.

In the end, the judge or jury decides on the outcome. 

Don’t Short Change Yourself

The law exists to protect people from each other. So, if you’re suffering or have suffered due to the actions of another person, you should receive compensation. 

The importance of negligence vs recklessness and their effects on the financial payback is far less important than the simple matter of right vs wrong. 

If you’re wronged by someone else, and sorry doesn’t cut it, you should take action. 

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