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Auto Accident 2.01.2022

What Is Negligence in Michigan: What You Need To Know

After you got hurt in an accident, if you want to win compensation, you have to prove someone else was at fault. You can base your theory of the claim on several legal reasons. But the most common reason is negligence. Our Michigan personal injury lawyers will help you gather and use evidence to prove the other party’s negligence.

The Joseph Dedvukaj, P.C. is here to fight for you to win the maximum settlement or jury award possible. We have a strong track record of success after car accidents, other auto accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home neglect and abuse, product liability, premises liability, and other types of claims. To learn more about proving negligence in your personal injury case, call us at 1-866-447-3563 or use our online form to request your free, confidential consultation.

What Is Negligence?

Negligence is when someone doesn’t behave as reasonable and careful person would under similar circumstances. Most people have a duty of ordinary care. This is a legal way of saying that everyone is supposed to act like a reasonably prudent person, given the same situation. What’s reasonable depends on the circumstances of each case. For example, what a reasonable driver would do on a clear-dry-day differs from how a reasonable driver behaves when it’s snowy on the roadway. When a person behaves in a way that’s negligent, or careless, like going too fast for road conditions on snowy day, and causes someone else harm, this is negligence.

The Elements of Negligence

When you claim someone else was hurt you as result of being negligent and should pay for your injuries, you have to prove four basic elements. The burden of proof rests on the claimant or plaintiff. If you take your case to trial, you have to give the jury enough evidence to sway their mind in favor of finding the other party is liable by a preponderance of the evidence. This standard of proof means - more likely than not or the tipping of the scales of justice in your favor on the four elements of negligence. You don’t need to give exact proof. It’s a lower standard than proving someone’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal case.

Legal Duty

You have to show the other person owed you a legal duty of care. A person’s legal duty of care toward you can differ depending on the situation. The law might say they have the legal duty of ordinary care. Courts apply this legal standard to most ordinary people, like drivers. But if the other party is a licensed professional, like a doctor or dentist, then they have a professional standard of care. Other types of individuals or businesses, like property owners or manufacturers, may have a different duty of care toward you, depending on the circumstances. It’s important to talk with a personal injury lawyer about whether someone else had a standard of care to maintain, and if so, what that standard was.

Breach of Legal Duty

After you prove someone was supposed to behave a certain way towards you, then you have to prove they breached the standard. You have to present the jury or court with sufficient evidence that the defendant’s behavior differed from what would have been reasonable care in your claim. In some cases, this means the party did something careless or unreasonable under the circumstances. Or it might mean the person or business failed to do something they were legally required to do.


On order to recover compensation, you need to show someone breached their duty of reasonable care, plus connect that misbehavior with your injuries. There are two types of causation in Michigan law: Cause in fact and proximate cause (or legal cause). You have to prove both. Cause in fact means you wouldn’t have been injured but for the defendant’s breach of the duty of care. If Defendant had been reasonable, you’d be fine. Proximate cause means that your injury is sufficiently related to the negligence. For your injury to be sufficiently related to the negligent conduct, it had to be foreseeable. In other words, a reasonable person could’ve reasonably predicted that you’d be hurt because of the defendant’s behavior.


If you are able to prove legal duty, breach of legal duty, and causation, you still need to prove you were harmed to win compensation. You have to show you sustained injuries, physical or emotional, and financial loss, which are commonly known as damages.

Gross Negligence

If you can prove someone’s mistake caused you harm, it’s called ordinary negligence. But, in your case, the other person’s behavior might have been worse than negligence. If someone’s actions are considered reckless, malicious or you show a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of other people and property, then their behavior is called gross negligence.

The distinction between ordinary and gross negligence is important because of the potential for exemplary damages. When you prove ordinary negligence, you can only win compensatory damages, which is money meant to compensate you for your injuries. But if you can prove gross negligence, then we can ask the court to give you exemplary damages. Instead of compensating you, exemplary damages are meant to be a deterrent or punish the defendant.

Implied Negligence (Res ipsa loquitur)

It isn’t always possible or practical to prove a person or business was negligent with direct evidence. For example, nobody was around when the plane exploded to see how a specifically what caused the dangerous incident. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have a strong legal claim. You may rely on the legal theory of res ipsa loquitur, which means “the thing speaks for itself.” This is also known as implied negligence because the thing was under the Defendant’s exclusive control. You can use circumstantial evidence to show you wouldn’t have been hurt unless someone else was negligent. In order to win on this basis, you also have to prove that the defendant was in exclusive control over the airplane, and that there is no other plausible explanation(s) for how you got hurt.

Negligence Per Se

In some cases, the person can be negligent by violating a safety statute. In order to be able to rely on negligence per se, the statute must be one that was enacted to protect people’s health and safety. It can be a state law or local ordinance, but it has to provide a punishment for violating it. When you use this theory of liability, you are claiming the other person was negligent for violating the statute. You prove they violated a statute and caused the type of harm the law or ordinance was meant to prevent.

Negligence Is Not an All or Nothing Issue

It’s important to know when you’re fighting for compensation that you don’t have to prove the other party was 100% negligent. It’s possible for you or a third person to be involved and to be partly at fault. If you may have been contributed to your injuries because of your negligence, then  you could see the defendant claiming contributory fault. The amount of
compensation win will depend on whether the defendant is 100% at fault.  Michigan’s modified comparative negligence law will be applied. If the defendant provides evidence that you or a third person might have also been at fault to some extent, the jury or court assigns each party a percentage of fault. You still get pain and suffering compensation if you were less than 50% at fault, although your compensation will be reduced by your own percentage of responsibility. If you were 30% at fault, then your compensation is reduced by 30%. But if the judge or jury believes you were 51% or more responsible, then the law complete bars you from receiving pain and suffering compensation. However, you are still entitled to economic compensation unless you are 100% at fault for your financial losses. In other words, even though you may be 75% at fault, you can still collect 25% of your financial losses from the at fault defendant.

Do You Have Questions About Negligence?

Michigan has several laws that apply to torts, like personal injury cases based on negligence. Our attorneys at The Joseph Dedvukaj Firm, P.C. know these laws forward and backward, so you don’t have to know anything. You don’t need to learn the law while you’re healing and recovering from unexpected injuries. Instead, you can partner with us easily with no up-front costs. We’ll guide you through the insurance claims process. When it’s necessary, we’ll represent you in a personal injury lawsuit filed in court.

Looking For A Negligence Lawyer?

 If you’ve been harmed in an accident that was someone else’s fault, please don’t wait to call us. You can send us your contact information through our online form or call 1-866-HIRE-JOE. The Joseph Dedvukaj Firm gives free consultations, and there are no fees unless we win.

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The Joseph Dedvukaj Firm, P.C represents Michigan clients in a full range of personal injury matters. If you have been injured, contact us for a free consultation.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute a client relationship.
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