Establishing Negligence in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Posted in Personal Injury on December 28, 2020
After an accident, you can experience certain hardships, such as expensive medical bills, months of lost wages, and physical and emotional pain and suffering. You may be eligible to secure compensation for these losses through a personal injury lawsuit—but only if you can prove that someone else’s actions caused your injuries and resulting damages. To establish your right to damages, you will need to prove a legal concept known as negligence.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is the legal concept that provides the foundation for personal injury lawsuits. For someone to act in negligence, he or she must have failed to behave in a way that another reasonable party would have under the same circumstances. Negligence encompasses a person’s actions as well as omissions, or the failure to act when he or she had a duty to do so.
Elements of Negligence
The court will only award compensation in your personal injury claim if you can prove that the defendant’s actions during the accident rose to the level of negligence. To establish negligence, you and your attorney will need to gather sufficient evidence to prove four key elements.
- Duty of care: This legal term refers to the at-fault party’s responsibility to prevent harm to another person. For negligence to occur, the defendant must owe you a duty of care at the time of the accident. For example, drivers have a duty to drive safely and follow traffic laws, and landlords have a duty to keep their properties reasonably safe from hazards.
- Breach of duty: You must prove that the defendant breached the duty of care that he or she owed to you at the time of the accident. For example, if another driver ran a red light before your accident, she broke a traffic law and therefore breached her duty of care. If your landlord fails to fix your broken porch after you request a repair, he also breaches his duty of care by not fixing a hazard within a reasonable time.
- Causation: After establishing the breach of duty, you must prove the breach directly caused your accident and resulting injuries. For example, if a driver ran a red light and collided into your vehicle while you were driving through the intersection, your medical records and traffic footage can establish causation.
- Damages: Finally, you will need to prove that you sustained damages as a result of your injuries that you can collect compensation for in your lawsuit. These damages may include medical bills, lost wages, property repairs, and pain and suffering.
Proving a Party’s Negligence
Establishing negligence in a personal injury case can be complex, depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident. To prove each of the four elements, you will need to gather clear and convincing pieces of evidence, including the following.
- Medical records
- Police reports
- Witness testimony
- Traffic footage
- Lost wage verification
- Diary notes
- Repair invoices
Your McAllen personal injury attorney may also contact expert witnesses to support your claim, such as medical experts, accident reconstruction specialists, and life care planners. These professionals provide testimony and submit evidence to the court on behalf of your lawsuit, which can help you establish complex elements such as causation.
If you suffer an injury due to another person’s negligence, contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will help you gather the evidence you need to establish negligence, provide access to additional investigatory resources, and answer any questions you may have about the litigation process.