The Four Elements of Negligence in Personal Injury Cases

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When you suffer severe injuries due to the negligence of another individual, you have a right to demand compensation for your damages. Most personal injury lawsuits and claims arise from a defective product, slip or trip and fall, dog bite, or motor vehicle accident.

All successful personal injury lawsuits and claims have one common factor: the plaintiff’s ability to prove by preponderance of the evidence that the at fault party was negligent.

What Is Negligence?

“Negligence” is the failure to use reasonable care under certain circumstances. For instance, if someone does something that a reasonable person would not do, or doesn’t do something that a reasonable individual would do, then that person can be liable for damages if the unreasonable act or omission causes loss or harm to someone else.

Individuals who do not use reasonable care are required by law to compensate the victims of their negligence.

What Are The Elements Required to Prove Liability Negligence?

To prove liability negligence, you should prove four primary elements:

  • A duty of care
  • A breach of that duty
  • Causation
  • Damages

If a plaintiff cannot establish each these elements of negligence, they will not receive compensation for their injuries in a trial.

1. Duty of Care

First, you must prove that the defendant owed you a legal duty of care. This legal duty care is established in your relationship with the defendant.

For instance, property owners must ensure that their buildings are safe for renters, visitors, employees, customers, or anyone entering the property. They must use reasonable care to identify and fix hazardous conditions within a logical timeframe.

Similarly, drivers have a duty of care to other motorists to ensure that their cars are road worthy, operate them safely, and follow all the traffic rules.

2. Breach of Duty

After proving that the defendant had a duty to care, the court will determine if they breached this duty by doing something that a careful individual would not do in a similar situation. The defendant will most likely be termed negligent if an average prudent person would have behaved or acted differently from what the party at fault did in that circumstance.

For instance, if an individual who knows their pet is aggressive to strangers brings the pet to a public event, and the pet harms someone, they have breached their duty to care.

3. Causation

Causation requires you to prove to the court that the defendant’s breach of duty caused your injuries and other damages.

The damage or injury should be reasonably foreseeable in that situation. For example, if a driver fails to stop at a pedestrian crossing and hits someone causing severe bruising or a broken leg, the victim would not have been harmed if the driver had followed traffic rules. In this case, the driver’s failure to show reasonable care caused the pedestrian’s injuries.

4. Damages

A person who acts unreasonable is responsible for the damages caused by her negligence, including injuries and property damages. Significant damages reported in a personal injury case include pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages.

Even when the losses and damages are apparent, the defendant will may try to downplay the nature and extent of the injuries to reduce the compensation amount. However, if you work with an experienced attorney, you can be confident that you will receive the amount you deserve.

Prove Negligence With an Attorney’s Help

The losses and injuries you suffer due to someone’s negligence can cause extreme pain, suffering, and financial constraint. Fortunately, the law entitles you to receive maximum compensation and relieve your burden.

Unfortunately, walking the legal journey without professional help can be draining. Luckily, lawyers at David R. Price, Jr., P.A. will walk with you and help you in the fight to win your personal injury case. Contact us today!

Types of Negligence FAQs

What is comparative negligence?

Comparative negligence is the victim’s negligence that partly caused her injuries and losses. In South Carolina, a victim’s compensation will be reduced by her percentage of fault. If she is 50 percent at fault or more, she can be barred from receiving compensation.

What is gross negligence?

Gross negligence refers to extreme negligence; the defendant fails to exercise even minimal care or diligence.


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