Negligence is the legal concept at the core of most personal injury cases. In order to collect damages (financial compensation) for your injuries, you need to show that another person or company owed you a duty of care that was negligently breached, and that their negligence caused you to sustain real losses. For example, the owner of a property owes a duty of care to people visiting that property to keep the premises safe. If the owner fails to install proper lighting and someone is hurt in a slip and fall
accident due to the low lighting, that is an act of negligence on the part of the owner and could be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
There are some circumstances in which negligence is not required to collect damages. For instance, Rhode Island is a strict liability state for dog bites
, which means you can pursue damages from the dog owner even if the owner was not negligent. In the vast majority of cases, however, you and your attorney will need to prove that your injuries were caused by someone else's negligence.
In some cases, multiple parties may be partially responsible for an accident. Rhode Island uses the legal principle of comparative negligence to handle these cases, which means that each responsible party is liable for a portion of the overall award in proportion to their percentage of fault. For example, if one party was found to be 60 percent at fault and another was found to be 40 percent at fault, you could recover compensation for 60 percent of your expenses from one party and 40 percent from the other.
This principle also means you can recover some damages even if you were partially responsible for your injuries. For instance, if you were awarded $100,000 but found to be 20 percent at fault, that award would be reduced by 20 percent to $80,000. Unlike many other states, Rhode Island does not bar victims from recovering when they are over 50 percent or 51 percent at fault - this is known as pure comparative negligence. In the preceding example, if you were found to be 60 percent at fault, you could still recover damages in the amount of $40,000.