How Foreseeability Impacts Your Negligence Case

There are many aspects to a negligence case that can impact whether you win or lose, one of which is whether your injuries were a foreseeable consequence of the situation. Here's more information about this facet of your personal injury case to help you better prepare your case.

Foreseeability Defined

The law defines foreseeable risk as something a reasonable person could predict would happen based on available information about the situation. For instance, if you get into a vehicle with a drunk driver and are injured in a subsequent accident the person causes, the court may rule against you because the accident was a foreseeable risk of deciding to ride with an intoxicated person.

When evaluating your case, the court will look at how likely it is that you would have sustained injuries in the situation. This can work for or against you, depending on the circumstances. For instance, Chris Brown was hit with a personal injury lawsuit in 2015 stemming from an incident where the plaintiff was shot at one of Brown's concerts. The plaintiff claims Brown should have foreseen violence would break out at the event and taken better precautions because allegedly it happened on numerous previous occasions.

In a case like this, a judge may agree that a reasonable person would've anticipated violence at the venue based on the history and hold the defendant liable for injuries if the person failed to do so and didn't make appropriate arrangements. At the same time, though, the judge could hold the plaintiff at least partially liable for his or her own injuries because violence at the concert was a foreseeable risk, since it had allegedly happened repeatedly before.

Countering This Defense

Foreseeability is typically used as a defense to a lawsuit, so don't be surprised if the defendant in your case uses it. To adequately counter this defense, you would have to show the risk of the incident was so unlikely that it could be disregarded. For example, there's a risk you could get hit by a car while crossing the street. If you're walking in a crosswalk and the light is red (meaning cars are stopped), the risk is so low it could be safely disregarded.

As noted previously, the court will use the "reasonable person" standard when evaluating the foreseeability of the risk the situation posed. Showing that only people of a specific mindset—rather than a reasonable person—could've anticipated the risk is another way you can counter this defense. For instance, a person who is trained in crowd control may sense when violence may occur, but an ordinary, untrained citizen may not.

For more information about this issue, contact a personal injury attorney.


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