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What Is Negligence?

In layman’s terms, negligence is characterized as a failure to take proper care in doing something. For example, a smoker who carelessly throws his cigarette on the ground, sparking a fire, may be called negligent.

Negligence takes on a more nuanced definition in legalese, as its concept forms the basis for most personal injury lawsuits. In legal terms, negligence can be summarized as a failure to exercise the same level of care and attention that an ordinary and reasonably prudent person would use in similar circumstances.

Creating an unreasonable risk of harm

Canada’s Supreme Court defined negligence as any kind of conduct that creates “an objectively unreasonable risk of harm.” This conduct can be intentional or unintentional. Negligence can be a purposeful act, such as driving too fast for speed limits – or a lack of action – such as failing to clear your sidewalk of snow and ice during winter months.

The vast majority of civil lawsuits are based on theories of negligence. One party’s careless actions or omissions caused another party to suffer injuries and damages. Let’s say you are buying groceries at your local market and slip in a puddle of liquid. You sprain your knee and ankle and hurt your lower back. The supermarket manager saw the spill an hour earlier but did not clean it up, or warn customers.

Elements of negligence

In this scenario, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit based on negligence if it can be proven that the accident was caused by a dangerous condition that was known about, but not corrected.  While these types of claims may seem cut-and-dry, they are notoriously difficult to prove.

In order to demonstrate that negligence occurred, you’ll need the skills of a qualified trip and fall lawyer who can assess the circumstances and identify if the following criteria were met:

  • Duty of care – Could the defendant reasonably foresee that another person would suffer injury?
  • Standard of care – Did the defendant act in the same manner that a reasonable person would have under similar circumstances?
  • Causation – Did these actions actually cause your injuries?

With decades of experience fighting for trip and fall injury victims, Preszler Law has a proven track record for obtaining fair settlements in Vancouver. It takes knowledge and commitment to secure the evidence necessary to prove negligence occurred, and the unsafe conditions caused your injuries and subsequent financial losses.

What do the courts consider to be “reasonable?”

A person who is reasonable is of sound judgement and acts in a fair and sensible manner. How does that translate in the courts? In British Columbia, the courts will use these criteria when considering the term reasonable:

  • Could the defendant have foreseen that their actions or lack of action would create harm?
  • Would the defendant have incurred little or no burden to prevent this harm?
  • Was the resulting injury serious?

British Columbia’s Negligence Act

In some accident cases, there is more than one person at fault. According to the Negligence Act, each party’s degree of fault will determine the damages awarded. For instance, if you were found to be 10 percent at fault for your fall and injuries, your damage award would be reduced to 90 percent of the total.

Even if your own actions partially contributed to a fall on another person’s property, you may still qualify for compensation under the Occupiers’ Liability Act. Property managers and owners have an obligation to ensure their premises are reasonably safe and free of hazards for patrons and guests.

Cluttered aisles, torn carpeting and defective stairs can all pose significant dangers – hazards that can reasonably be foreseen to cause harm. When negligent maintenance and lack of action causes serious harm, victims have legal remedies available.

At Prezler Injury Lawyers, we are proud to advocate for victims of negligence throughout British Columbia and will assess the circumstances of your accident during a free case evaluation.

Put our experience to work for you

Liability can be challenging in personal injury cases, and your choice of trip and fall law firm is a significant one. We understand the devastating impacts of a serious personal injury and have the resources and expertise to help you secure maximum compensation.

If you suffered a trip and fall injury and need legal guidance, Preszler Law can help you.


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