The Theory of Liability

Not everyone who injures someone else is held liable, and not everyone who is held liable for an accident intended to hurt someone. This legal reality creates some confusion about just what liability is and how it is established in a personal injury case. The attorneys at Barber and Associates, LLC in Anchorage work with their clients to help them understand what liability means and how it applies to their situations. Sometimes, clients are surprised to learn that individuals or organizations may be liable for the victim’s injuries even if they were not directly involved in an accident.

Direct vs. Indirect Liability

One of the hardest things for most non-lawyers to understand is direct vs. indirect liability. There is a good reason for this confusion: the theory of liability is not always intuitive. Sometimes someone is liable for an accident who is not the obvious person to hold responsibility for the injuries, while someone who would seem to be liable is actually not responsible.

For example, suppose that a person hits and kills another person in a DUI accident. The driver is obviously responsible, but under Alaska dram shop law, the person who sold this obviously intoxicated driver liquor may also be liable. The driver has direct liability while the bar owner may have indirect liability.

Types of Liability

In order to understand liability, it is first necessary to understand the theory of torts. A tort is a civil wrongful action or inaction that causes someone else to suffer harm. A tort may or may not spring from an illegal activity. In other words, some torts come from illegal actions, but not all torts are the result of crimes. Injury includes physical, mental, emotional and financial injury.

The standard in most civil cases in proving a tort occurred is showing negligence. Negligence can mean a deliberate action that resulted in harm, but it can also refer to an action that was not intended. However, for the action to be negligent, the person who committed the act should have known that the act might cause harm. The standard for showing negligence includes:

  • Showing that the person who committed negligence owed a duty of care to the victim;
  • There was a breach of that duty;
  • The defendant was the cause, directly or indirectly, of the injury;
  • The victim suffered some type of damage; and
  • The damage was not remote; in other words, the damage can be connected to the negligence.

The attorneys at Barber and Associates, LLC in Anchorage work with victims every day who have suffered injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence. Contact them today to learn more about collecting damages for your injuries.

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