How to determine negligence

When someone has been hurt or killed due to negligence, victims or their families have legal options for holding the negligent party accountable. However, proving negligence is more complicated than you might think. When determining whether negligence resulted in an accident, there are four general factors to be considered -- duty, breach, cause and harm.

The first thing to consider is whether the accident victim -- the plaintiff -- was owed a duty by the defendant. There are two types of duties that a person may be responsible for. One is to act in a way that a normal person is expected to act, and the other is a duty that is determined by law or statute.

If a duty was owed, then a breach of that duty needs to be proven. A breach can occur by behaving in a way that is in violation of, or by not doing, what is required by law. Showing that the breach of the required duty led to an injury or death is an important part of proving negligence.

Finally, it must be determined that the negligence resulted in harm. A breach of duty that did not result in harm does not constitute fault for negligence.

There are two types of harm that can result from negligence. The first is bodily harm, which could have physical and emotional components. The other type of harm is real or personal property damage.

Victims of negligence may be entitled to significantly more compensation than the insurance company initially offers, and New Mexico families need to be aware of their legal options for obtaining the maximum available compensation for injuries.

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