The State of Mind of the Defendant in a Personal Injury Claim
How State of Mind Affects Proof Issues
When you’ve been hurt or suffered an illness because of the wrongful behavior of another person, you have the right to bring a lawsuit seeking full and fair compensation for any damages or loss caused by that conduct. One of the key elements that you must prove in a personal injury claim is the defendant’s “state of mind” at the time of the accident. Under the laws of negligence, as they have evolved over the centuries, there are a number of different states of mind that may be sufficient to support a claim for your injuries:
- Negligence—To establish negligence, you must show that the defendant’s actions were inconsistent with community standards for what a reasonable person would do under the circumstances
- Recklessness—Recklessness may be present when the defendant knew or should have known that his behavior posed an unreasonable risk of imminent harm.
- Intent—Intent or willfulness requires only that you show that the defendant meant to inflict specific harm, knew that his actions would lead to certain types of injury, or acted without using any caution
- Strict liability—Under the concept of strict liability, there’s no need to show negligence, recklessness or intent. Those types of claims governed by strict liability are customarily set forth in statutes, and the written laws usually identify the elements of a claim. To successfully recover, you need only show that the defendant met the requirements of the statute. For example, under New Jersey’s strict liability dog bite statute, you need only show that you were bitten by a dog owned by or under the control of the defendant—you don’t need to show knowledge of the dog’s aggressive tendencies.
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At the Lee Law Firm, we have extensive knowledge and experience successfully handling personal injury claims. We take all personal injury cases on a contingency basis—you won’t pay any attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses.
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