In order to win a personal injury case, you need to prove negligence. You may have heard this term before, but not had it fully explained to you. At its core, negligence means that someone acted carelessly. Of course, actually proving negligence in court is much more complicated. The legal standard of negligence has four parts, and each part must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence in order to find a defendant liable for injuries.
1. Defendant had a Duty of Care
The first part of negligence is that the defendant had a responsibility to act in a safe and careful manner under the circumstances that led to plaintiff’s injuries. Determining if the defendant had a duty of care is a case by case situation. This part of negligence is often not hard to prove however, as our society has many situations where people are expected to avoid injuring others. For example, all drivers on the road have a duty of care to other drivers and pedestrians using the roadway.
2. Defendant Breached that Duty
Breach of duty means that the defendant failed to exercise the caution expected of them. Using the driving example, a driver who is texting while on the interstate has breached their duty of care to everyone else on the road.
3. Defendant’s breach was the proximate cause of injury
Causation in negligence is critical. In order to successfully argue a negligence case, you must prove that the defendant’s negligence was a cause, or at least a major contributing factor, to the plaintiff’s injuries. This means that a driver who was texting on the road cannot be sued for negligence simply because they are in breach of their duty of care.
The Defendant must also have been reasonably able to foresee that their actions were going to cause injury. In cases where the events that led to plaintiff’s injuries are distantly related to the actions of the defendant, it will be very difficult to prove causation.
4. The Plaintiff was actually injured or suffered damages
Lastly, a court will not find a defendant negligent if there is no actual injury or property damage as the result of the accident. This element means the court must be able to compensate the plaintiff for their damages, usually through financial compensation.
Properly demonstrating and proving each element of negligence in court is no easy matter. If you have been a victim of an accident and believe that it was due to someone’s negligence, you should contact a skilled personal injury lawyer Atlanta GA relies on right away. Your attorney will be able to look at the facts of your case and help you lay out the best path for you.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into steps to proving negligence.