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A "Failure to Act" as a Legal Liability in a Personal Injury Case

If your failure to act results in injury, can a court hold you accountable?

Courts evaluate a failure to act as a legal liability when adjudicating a personal injury case. Their decision depends on what a reasonable person would do. While many personal injury cases involve reckless or careless behavior that injures someone, a failure to act is a different legal  factor  that  may carry  responsibility. In certain situations, taking action can be a duty of care. Therefore, a failure to act could  be neglect.

When is failing to do something an unreasonable action?

In other words, do you have a legal obligation to prevent harm?

Let's say that someone is drowning.  Are you legally obligated to dive in and save them? The answer is typically, no. You may not be a good swimmer  and jumping  in could put you both in harm's way. However, let's say you are a lifeguard and are not paying attention because you are texting or playing a game on your phone, and someone is drowning. Your failure to act would be negligent. Here is another possible example: if you pushed someone off a pier and then realized they couldn't swim, you may have the legal obligation to jump in and save them.

Other situations may call for action rather than non-action. If a passenger on a bus is having a heart attack, the bus driver has an obligation to stop the bus and call 9-1-1. A failure to do so would be negligent.

If you know your dog can be vicious, but you allow it to roam the  neighborhood, your failure to prevent your dog from roaming could result in liability. In particular, this would be true if your dog bites and seriously injures someone. Under circumstances like this, the injured party could hold you accountable.

If you believe someone else was at fault for seriously injuring you, speak with an attorney.

How long do you have to file a personal injury case?

In New York, the statute of limitations in a Personal injury case is three years. This means you have three years to file a claim.

Sackstein, Sackstein & Lee, LLP offers a free consultation to explain your legal rights and determine whether grounds exist to sue. Call us:516-248-2234 and 718-539-3100 or reach out to us through our contact form.

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