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Shelbourne Law Attorneys & Counselors Summerville Personal Injury, Estate Planning & Business Lawyer

Personal Injury Cases: Who’s at Fault?


What happens if you are walking around the mall or grocery store and you step in something slippery and fall? Or maybe you are entering your office building and the automatic door closes on your hand.

It’s quite possible that any of the situations above will result in some form of personal injury. It could be as minor as a small bruise or as serious as a fractured bone or torn ligament. In this circumstance, who should be held accountable? Does the fault lie with you for not being more aware of your surroundings? Should you blame the janitor for not cleaning up the liquid on the ground or the company responsible for manufacturing the automatic door?

When accidents like these happen, do you have financial recourse or are you going to be stuck with the medical bill?

Questions like these are the ones you should be asking an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Cases that involve personal injury center on the concept of negligence. They cover a wide range of circumstances including:

  • Accidents in the workplace;
  • Accidents on the road;
  • Medical malpractice; and
  • Accidents at home.

Demonstrating negligence can be challenging, but it is not outside the realm of possibility. There are four fundamental elements needed to have a successful claim of negligence.

Duty of Care

Duty of care is “a requirement that a person act toward others and the public with the watchfulness, attention, caution and prudence that a reasonable person in the circumstances would use.” In other words, everyone has an obligation to avoid hurting someone else.

Unlike traffic codes, there are no specific laws that detail how a person should conduct himself or herself. This makes the determination of duty of care a challenge.

Breach of Duty 

The next inquiry to be answered is whether the individual or company responsible for the duty of care actually met that duty. If a person or company did not meet the expected duty, then their actions are negligent.

For example, if a person was speeding and caused an accident injuring you, that is a clear breach of duty and the driver would be at fault. They may also be at fault if not speeding. For example, they may be driving too fast for conditions or failing to yield right of way. It is not necessary for the at fault driver to receive a traffic ticket. There can still be a breach of duty even though no laws are broken.


When dealing with personal injury, the argument isn’t whether or not a person or company did something wrong. The injured party must establish that a person or company’s actions caused the injury. This is what is called proximate duty. These additional factors take causation further than duty of care or breach of duty.

In keeping with the example above, a person may have been speeding, but were you supposed to be in the road at that point? Were you vigilant of your surroundings and watchful? The driver may have been negligent when speeding, but their behavior may not be the direct cause of your injury.


In legal terms, the word “damages” refers to physical damage, property damage, the loss of income, and the emotional injuries a person sustains as the result of an accident. The damages sustained are the determining factor of how much compensation will be awarded. If there is no physical injury, it may be harder to determine how much reparation, if any, should be paid.

Discover How a Personal Injury Attorney in Summerville, South Carolina Can Help 

The components of a case involving personal injury can be difficult to understand.  That is why it’s best to hire an experienced Summerville lawyer from Shelbourne Law. Call 843-871-2210 to speak with one of our reliable attorneys or schedule a free consultation today.

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