When someone files a personal injury claim against a third party that has caused them harm, they will often label the defendant as someone who acted with negligence or recklessness. While the terms do seem and often are interchangeable, they actually have different definitions in many legal forums. Depending on the details of a claim, knowing about those differences could be important.
Negligence: Creating Dangers But Possibly Not Knowing It
Negligence is most often described as someone acting carelessly, inattentively, or unskillfully in a situation that requires alertness, awareness, or capability, according to a reasonable person. If you were to compile all the personal injury claims ever filed, you would notice negligence being cited in the vast majority of them. Since the description of negligence is fairly vague, it acts as a useful umbrella term that covers nearly all accidents and incidents that lead to someone getting hurt. For example, both a medical professional who prescribes the wrong prescription to a patient and a property owner who leaves ice around entryways are acting negligently in terms of legal definitions.
Recklessness: Knowingly Disregarding Common Sense
Recklessness is the legal cousin to negligence. Rather than someone acting carelessly and being seemingly unaware of the hazard they cause, recklessness is the act of knowingly participating in an activity that a reasonable person would see as dangerous. Consider a person who drinks alcohol to the point of intoxication but then gets behind the wheel, tries to drive home, and causes a car accident. They are acting recklessly, as they knew before they started drinking that drunk driving is extremely dangerous, in addition to being illegal.
Recklessness Compared to Negligence in Legal Settings
Why is it important to realize a distinction between recklessness and negligence? Depending on the intricate details of an accident case, it might be beneficial for the plaintiff to prove the defendant was reckless, not just negligent. When a judge or jury is shown that someone has acted with recklessness, and therefore should have been aware of the harm they could cause through their actions, it is often easier for the plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer to convince them to give a greater compensatory reward, perhaps even including punitive damages to punish them for wrongdoing.
Maliciousness: Willingly Hurting Others
It is worth noting that there is actually a third way someone can be assigned liability in an injury claim: maliciousness. Many legal texts and claims will not actually say the word “maliciousness” in its paragraphs and clauses, but they will probably describe it through other means. When someone acts maliciously, they attempt to hurt or disadvantage another person and act in a way to accomplish those goals. Since it is a crime to try to bring harm to someone else, maliciousness is often reserved for injury claims seeking restitution against a convicted criminal. Someone who was assaulted, for example, may file an injury claim against their assaulter, citing both their maliciousness and conviction as reasons as to why they deserve full compensation.
Compassionate Legal Advocacy for All Your Injury Claims
When you have been hurt by a third party – whether they acted negligently, recklessly, or maliciously – it can be difficult to know who can lean on for legal representation. Our San Jose personal injury attorneys of Habbas & Associates have built a reputation for acting with genuine care and compassion when working with our clients but tenacity and enthusiasm when dealing with your legal opposition. Regardless of the details behind how or why you were wrongfully injured, you can trust in us to do the right thing, provide moral support, and steer your claim towards a positive outcome with a maximized settlement.
Your satisfaction and comfort are the top priorities at Habbas & Associates. Talk to our award-winning lawyers about your case by contacting us today.