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Personal Injury Blog

  • What is the difference between an "accident" and a "tort" - Civil

    Posted By chaikinandsherman || 15-Feb-2008

    We all know that a criminal case requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt. That is one difference between a criminal case and "tort", which is a civil wrongdoing. The reason why the burden of proof is higher in a criminal case is because liberty is at stake.

    The burden of proof in a civil case requires a claimant to prove, by a "preponderance of the evidence" that the individual that caused the harm violated a duty owed to that individual. A preponderance of the evidence means that you have to prove your case by showing that the violation and the damages, more probably than not, occurred as alleged. Examples of standards of care that result in duties are:

    -Stopping at a red light and not proceeding until the light turns green
    -Stopping at a stop sign and not proceeding until it is safe to do so.
    -Not changing lanes unless it is safe to do so.
    -Not turning in front of another vehicle unless and until it is safe to do so.
    -Not driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

    However, occasionally a potential client calls because they were injured but not because anyone violated a duty towards them. For example, if it is raining and you slip and fall because the sidewalk is slippery, no one owed a duty to protect you from having a sidewalk that would not be slippery in raining conditions. Another example would be in a supermarket, assuming that the floor became wet by the customer immediately preceding you and there was not ample opportunity for the store owner to observe and protect the customer from walking on the wet floor, there would be no duty violated in the event that somebody slipped and fell. There has to be a reasonable opportunity to observe a danger and protect the public from being hurt by the danger that materialized. However, accidents do happen, always have happened and still happen. An accident, which is an incident that the law does not recognize as one which would permit you to obtain compensation for results when you are injured without anybody having caused the injury because they acted unreasonably. Accordingly, in trying to evaluate whether you have a claim, the first question you should ask is: "Was my injury caused because somebody failed to adhere to a duty I expected that they owed to me?" If the answer to that question is yes, then you have a claim and, assuming you are injured, you should call the law firm of Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. to assist you in pursuing your claim and obtaining the maximum compensation available under the law.

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