Every day, someone is injured in the United States because of someone’s negligent or reckless acts. In fact, these incidents are so common that a vast majority never make it on the news, but should. Negligence today is a growing concern – and certainly a public health and safety issue.
The number of ways a person could be injured by someone’s negligence might surprise you. While we discuss these 14 ways negligence can lead to a serious injury (and potential personal injury lawsuit), know that there are dozens more not listed here.
Negligence is a failure to act or take proper care when doing something. From a legal standpoint, it means breaching your duty of care to the public. When you are negligent, and your negligence causes injuries, you could be held liable for the injuries you cause in a civil and possibly criminal court.
Typically, a person is found “negligent” when they fail to use the reasonable standard of care. What is “reasonable” to the court comes down to what the public might do in a similar situation. If a vast majority of people would have acted differently in the same situation, then the defendant might be found at-fault. For example, most people would not drink and drive. Not only is it illegal, but irresponsible and dangerous. Therefore, when a person drinks, drives and causes an accident, the court would find them negligent.
To err is human. However, those errors in judgment can have long-term consequences. While some of these negligent acts are common sense, others may surprise you. In fact, you may find a negligent act on this list that you are guilty of committing yourself.
We live in a connected society where our smartphones are practically another limb. They go everywhere with us, including in the car. The number of distracted driving incidents in the United States is astounding, which is why lawmakers have responded with harsher penalties and laws banning distracted driving outright.
In 2012, 421,000 people were injured in distracted driving cases – and that number is most likely less than the true number of injuries that occurred. After all, most motorists are not going to admit that they were distracted when they got into an accident.
Talking, texting, or even reading an email on your phone while operating a vehicle is dangerous and reckless. While not all states ban the use of phones while driving, you can still be held liable for the injuries you cause while distracted – regardless of whether you receive a citation or not.
Every single state in the U.S. prohibits drunken driving.
Every day, 28 people in the United States die because of a drunken driver – which is the equivalent of a death every 51 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Anyone that chooses to drink and drive is not only putting the public at risk, but they are guaranteed to become a defendant if their drinking and driving causes an accident. They become a criminal defendant when they are charged in criminal court – but they can also become the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit where vast amounts of money are at stake.
Did you know that as a property owner, you are required to shovel snow and take care of ice on your property? If you fail to do so, you could be held liable for any injuries that occur.
For example, you see the ice and snow on your walkways, but decide to let it stay for the day. A friend comes to visit and slips on the icy stairs leading to your porch. They fall down the stairs and fracture a hip in the process. Your neglect led to their injuries, and you are legally liable for the injuries.
Did you know that as a motor vehicle operator, you are required to maintain your vehicle? Your car must be operational and safe. When you cause an accident because you fail to change out bald tires, ignore brake issues, or don’t replace broken taillights – you are legally responsible for the accident and any injuries that may result.
You want to host the party of the century. You throw a killer bash, invite friends, and serve up mean cocktails. Afterward, you let your guests drive home, including those you knew were intoxicated. After all, they are adults and make their own choices, right?
While that drunken driver is legally responsible for any incidents they cause, you could technically be liable as well. If you served alcohol to a drunken person and let them drive home knowing they were too intoxicated to do so safely – you could be held responsible for any injuries that occur in an accident.
Your dog has a history of aggression. While he is sweet and loving to you and your children, he is not so sweet around strangers. Knowing that he could harm someone, you let him roam free out front while you are doing some yard work.
When a neighbor passes by, your dog attacks the neighbor and causes traumatic injuries. Are you liable?
You knew your dog was aggressive and might attack a stranger, but decided to leave him off the leash anyway – without any fence or enclosure that would protect the public. Therefore, the courts would consider you liable for that dog attack.
Spills happen in retail, especially if you are a food establishment.
However, the law requires that management or employees find these spills in a reasonable amount of time and take care of them to prevent anyone from slipping and falling.
If you fail to clean up a spill, and the courts decide that you had a reasonable amount of time to clean it up or place warning signs, you could be liable for anyone who slips and injures themselves in that spill zone.
You might have a spill at your store, and you mopped it up. But if you did not put up a “wet floor” sign and someone slips and falls, you can still be held liable.
Your store is ready to compete in the holiday sales rush. You offer a blowout sale, which you know will bring more patrons than your store can hold. Instead of having security in place and filtering how many people enter the store at once, you let the crowd run wild.
As a result, someone trips and is trampled by the crowd of shoppers. Would you be held negligent? Yes, you would. You knew that more shoppers than your store could hold would likely be present, and you did not provide security or any means to control the mob.
Doctors are required to put their patient’s best interests first. That means reading their chart, reviewing their history, and getting a full list of medications the patient takes. Failure to perform any of these steps could result in prescribing medications that the patient is allergic to, or that interact dangerously with a medication (including over-the-counter) that the patient is already taking. This failure would very likely result the physician being found negligent.
Speed limits are there for a reason. They ensure that vehicles traveling in the area are uniform and have enough time to react. When you speed, you are increasing your risk of an accident. Furthermore, you are being negligent.
Speeding and causing an accident is not only criminal, but opens you up for a personal injury lawsuit too.
Physicians and their staff are required to follow up with patients after treatment. Patients should be scheduled for subsequent check-ups, or at least a phone call to see how their treatment is progressing. Failing to do so could result in adverse effects, and a patient that suddenly gets worse. When a physician fails to exercise their medical standard of care, and a patient is harmed, they are negligent.
If you run an in-home daycare, the state might not require that you childproof, but your clients will certainly expect it. After all, you are watching small children and being paid for your services. Therefore, if a child is injured because you failed to childproof, you are negligent and could be held liable for the injuries that child sustains.
You are playing baseball. You strike out but disagree with the umpire’s call. Out of anger, you throw your baseball bat into the stands and it strikes someone – causing a serious brain injury. A reasonable person would not throw a baseball bat into a crowd. Furthermore, being struck by a bat is not a reasonable risk assumed by spectators at a baseball game. Therefore, your negligence makes you liable for that person’s injuries.
When negligence causes injury, the party that was negligent could be liable for your injuries. To see if your injury case qualifies for compensation, it is best that you consult with an injury attorney in your area.
Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.
Years of experience: +30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2023