NC Negligence Claims In a Nutshell

Personal injury cases in North Carolina are normally based on a theory of negligence, meaning someone failed to act reasonably in a particular situation. Most of the negligence claims I handle are from automobile accidents, but sometimes I handle slip-and-fall incidents, dog bites, and occasionally medical malpractice. Each of these scenarios normally involves a negligence claim.

To establish a good negligence claim, four fundamental elements must be present: duty, breach, causation, and damages. This is not the case for intentional torts, but that’s for another post. Here’s a breakdown of the elements of negligence.

Element 1: Duty

This is the legal obligation to act as a reasonable person would under similar circumstances. This can mean a lot of different things. For example, all drivers have a duty to follow State traffic laws and exercise due caution to avoid harming others on the road. Businesses have a duty to discover and warn of dangerous conditions.

Element 2: Breach of Duty

A breach of this duty occurs when the responsible party fails to meet the standard of care referenced above. This can mean a lot of different things, obviously. An example might be a driver texting while driving and causing an accident. 

Element 3: Causation

Causation is where the rubber meets the road in these claims. Plaintiffs have a duty to prove that the breach (above) caused the damages (that we’ll explain below). Remember, in a North Carolina civil claim, the burden of proof is a preponderance of evidence, meaning “more likely than not,” or reduced to numbers, 50.1% more likely to be true. That’s not impossible, but it can be hard.

Element 4: Damages

Damages in personal injury cases are often categorized as economic and non-economic. Economic damages are the “hard numbers,” like costs incurred by the plaintiff, while non-economic damages cover more subjective things such as pain and suffering, or whatever you might call that.

As always, this stuff can be complicated. If you’re hurt in North Carolina, call me at 919-929-2992.

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Jeffrey Allen Howard, Attorney at Law, PLLC
1829 E. Franklin St. - Bldg 600
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

(P) 919-929-2992
(F) 919-636-4779

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