Although personal injury lawyers deal with a large scope of areas, the one place they intersect is when an injury is caused by an act of negligence. From a motor vehicle accident to a slip and fall to a matter of product liability, each claim we handle involves negligence in some form.
So in the world of personal injury law, what constitutes an act of negligence? When it comes to the law, there are five elements of proving negligence when it comes to a claim.
The At-Fault Party Owed the Injured Party a Duty of Care
In legalese, a duty of care is “a requirement that a person act toward others and the public with the watchfulness, attention, caution and prudence that a reasonable person in the circumstances would use.” When people interact on a daily basis, there are standards they must meet in dealing with each other. On the road, drivers owe a duty of care to the other drivers on the road. When it comes to products, a manufacturer owes his customers a safe product.
The At-Fault Party’s Conduct Fell Below the Standard of Care
This looks more closely at what the standard of care in the situation is and how the at-fault party fell below it. For instance, in a motor vehicle claim, the standard of care would be driving carefully at the designated speed. The at-fault party would be falling below this by unsafely speeding and causing an accident.
This Act Directly Caused the Accident
Causation can be more difficult to prove. In the majority of claims, a causal link can be established easily. But difficulties can arise if symptoms are not immediate or if there are several parties involved. This is when evidence and expert reports become critical in order to establish the cause of the injury in the claim.
Foreseeability and Proximate Cause
In the case of negligence, the harm that was inflicted would need to be foreseeable. The court looks at ways in which the harm could have been anticipated by the at-fault party. Was the type of harm foreseeable? Was the manner of harm foreseeable? And was the extent of harm foreseeable? Simply, should the at-fault party have been able to foresee the consequences of his or her actions? This is called proximate cause.
The Injuries Must Have Caused Losses or Damages
Losses, or damages, are actions taken in order to “make the plaintiff whole”. This can be figurative as many modes of compensation merely reimburse for financial losses. This would be considered an economic damage. Non-economic damages can’t always be tied to a financial cost. Pain and suffering and emotional distress are both forms of non-economic damages.
If you have been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another, call a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights to compensation. Personal Injury Lawyer we offer a no-cost initial consultation to discuss your claim.