Hello everybody, this is Robert Mansour, today talking to you about the notion of negligence. Sometimes clients call my office and they say, "Hey, this other person caused an accident," or this other person did this, that, or the other, "I would like to make a claim." And I say, "Okay, first, we have to decide whether it ... was that person negligent?" Because if they weren't negligent and they didn't do anything wrong, we're going to have a little bit of a hard time going after that person or their insurance carrier.
So, negligence generally has four components to it. Number one is duty. Did the other person have a duty to do X, Y, or Z? So, if I'm driving a car, I have a duty to follow the law, for example. I have to stop at a stoplight. I have to yield to pedestrians. I have to drive at a reasonable speed. That is my duty as a driver. The next thing is breach. So, once we establish that that individual had a duty, we have to ask ourselves did they breach that duty? Did they break that promise to do X, Y, or Z? So, if somebody was driving recklessly or driving too fast, or failed to stop at a stoplight, or blew through a stop sign, we can argue that they breached their duty.
So, we have duty, we have a breach of that duty, or a break if you will, of that promise to do X, Y or Z. The next fundamental component is something called causation. So duty, breach, causation. What is causation? Well, just because somebody has a duty and somebody breaches that duty, doesn't mean that that caused the injury, or caused the accident to occur. So, causation is very important because sometimes it's an intervening cause or something entirely different. Or, the individual had a pre-existing injury that he or she is trying to bootstrap onto the accident. So you gotta be very careful. Just because somebody broke the law and did something wrong, doesn't necessarily mean it caused the harm.
The final component is damages. Let's say somebody has a duty, they breached that duty and it was a cause of the accident. Just because it was a cause of the accident doesn't mean that it was also a cause of the harm, and it also doesn't mean that there was a harm. I got a client call one time, he was involved in an accident and I said, "Okay, well, what happened?" He goes, this, that ... I'm like, "Okay, go on." I said, "Were you hurt?" He said, "No, I wasn't hurt. I'm fine." I said, "Well, then there really is no damage." I mean, there's property damage and the insurance company's fixing his car, but beyond that, he said he's fine. He doesn't have any injuries. So there is no damages to pursue.
So, just because, once again, somebody had a duty, they breached that duty, there was causation, you have to have damages, that last component. Generally speaking, breaking a nail in a car accident or scratching your nail, that's not appreciable injury. Generally speaking, you don't want to pursue a case unless you have a significant or appreciable injury. 'Cause otherwise, a judge or a jury or an insurance company's just going to tell you to go away. People don't like frivolous claims. People don't like folks who try to get away with stuff, who try to make mountains out of molehills.
So, all that being said, just because somebody else did something wrong, doesn't necessarily mean you get to make a claim or that you even have a claim worth pursuing. Duty, breach, causation and damages. Thank you very much for watching this video. I hope you found it helpful. My name is Robert Mansour. Feel free to call my office if you have any additional questions about your accident case.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,