The Importance of Proving Negligence in Washington Law

Whether it’s an accident, a slip-and-fall injury, or a case of medical malpractice, negligence is the basis of many different legal cases. While it may be easy for you to call someone negligent in their actions, proving negligence to a Washington court isn’t nearly as simple. Proving that someone acted in a negligent matter may be key to your case, and doing so in the correct manner is crucial to a successful outcome.

The first step in proving negligence is showing that the defendant had a duty to act (or not act) in a certain way, which would be considered acting reasonably for a person in their position. An example would be that we expect lifeguards to respond appropriately if someone is drowning in a pool. Their job, or their duty, is to respond to emergencies and make an attempt to save that person. An unreasonable standard of duty to set for a lifeguard, however, would be if we expected them to also prevent a robbery at the poolhouse. This isn’t a standard duty of lifeguards, and we shouldn’t expect a lifeguard to do so normally.

If the defendant did not fulfill their duty, or outright acted in a way that was contrary to that duty, then we have established a breach of duty. A lifeguard that refuses to attempt rescuing a drowning patron (or outright drowned them themselves) would have breached their duty. Proving that they did not fulfill their duty is not enough in and of itself. We must also demonstrate that their breach of duty directly caused the injuries to the plaintiff and that they should have known that an injury would occur due to their breach of duty. In the case of our lifeguard, their lack of action to save the patron or direct drowning would be a direct cause of their injuries, and we can easily assume that any reasonable lifeguard would know that drowning may cause injuries to a person.

Finally, we must prove that there are actual injuries, whether they be physical or mental, to the plaintiff. This is usually done through a doctor’s verification of the severity and extent of the injuries, to quantify the damage done.

Keep in mind that Washington is a contributory fault state, meaning that if a person is found to be twenty percent responsible for their own injuries, the amount of recovery they can make is then reduced by twenty percent. While this may reduce the amount that a defendant is at fault, proving negligence is still just as crucial to proving their responsibility for the incident. 

When you’re hurt by a negligent actor, it’s critical to get legal representation that knows how to fight for your case. We take cases of negligence very seriously and stand ready to prove what matters to your case. Contact us today and see what we can do for you.

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McMahon Law Group

Legal issues of any type can be a frightening and overwhelming experience, and certainly something you don’t want to face alone. Attorney Jacque McMahon and the McMahon Law Group will work closely with you to ensure you not only get the best legal representation possible, but that you are well-informed throughout the process. If you are facing legal issues, please contact us to discuss your situation and get the help you need.

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