The crux of personal injury claims often rests on negligence, where one must establish that the other party acted carelessly or recklessly before being entitled to compensation for any injuries incurred. Failure to prove the legal elements of negligence absolves the other party from any financial responsibility towards damages.
Therefore, having a grasp of the legal theory of negligence and how to demonstrate negligence is vital if you intend to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. Although our personal injury lawyers handle the legal aspects of the case, it’s beneficial to understand some of the legal terminology used during the case to reduce stress and apprehension.
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What is Negligence in a Personal Injury Claim?
In the context of personal injury claims, negligence refers to a failure to exhibit the same level of care and caution that a reasonable and prudent person would under comparable circumstances. Negligence can refer to acts committed or omissions (failures to act). For instance, a reasonable and prudent person would not drive under the influence of alcohol or allow a vicious dog to roam the neighborhood. A sensible and cautious person typically takes steps to avoid causing harm or injury to others, or at the very least, reduce the risk of such incidents.
How Do I Prove That Another Person Acted Negligently?
Establishing negligence in a personal injury case involves providing evidence that establishes a chain of causation, linking the four legal elements of negligence together to hold the at-fault party liable for damages.
In California, demonstrating negligence requires showing that the party at fault had a legal obligation to act with reasonable care and that they breached that duty of care, thereby placing the victim in danger of harm or injury.
The duty of care is the first element of negligence, and it requires demonstrating that the at-fault party had a legal responsibility to act with the same level of care that a reasonable and prudent person would use in a similar situation. Medical providers, for example, have a duty of care to provide care that meets or exceeds the medical standard of care for the particular circumstance, while drivers owe a duty of care to other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians to follow all traffic laws and operate the vehicle safely.
After establishing the duty of care, the next element is proving a breach of that duty. A breach occurs when the party at fault fails to act with reasonable care, thereby placing the victim in danger of being harmed or injured. Examples of breaching the duty of care may include a driver running a red light, a nursing home failing to conduct background checks on employees, or a restaurant failing to follow food safety guidelines.
If a breach of duty occurred, the next link in the chain of causation is demonstrating that the breach was the cause of the incident that resulted in the injury. In other words, establishing a causal link between the breach of duty and the injury is necessary to prove negligence.
Establishing Causation in a Personal Injury Case: How Do You Do It?
One of the critical elements of proving negligence in a personal injury case is establishing causation. To hold a party legally responsible for damages, the plaintiff must prove that the party’s actions or inaction directly caused the injuries.
For example, in a medical malpractice case, the plaintiff must prove that the healthcare provider’s negligence caused the injury. The plaintiff must show that the provider breached the duty of care and that the breach directly caused the injury. If the plaintiff can’t establish a direct link between the provider’s negligence and the injury, they may not recover damages.
In some cases, proving causation may be straightforward. For instance, if a driver runs a red light and causes a collision, the driver’s negligence is likely the direct cause of the accident. However, in some cases, establishing causation may be more complicated.
Suppose a person slips and falls in a store and suffers injuries. The plaintiff must prove that the store owner’s negligence caused the injury. The plaintiff must show that the owner breached the duty of care by failing to keep the premises safe and that the breach directly caused the injury. If the plaintiff can’t establish that the owner’s negligence caused the injury, they may not recover damages.
Overall, proving causation is a crucial part of establishing negligence and winning a personal injury case. It can be challenging to establish causation in some cases, and working with an experienced personal injury attorney can be helpful in such situations.
Understanding Damages As Part of Your Negligence Claim
The final component to establish in a negligence claim is damages. This refers to the harm or losses that you have suffered as a result of the accident and injury. Without any injury or harm, you cannot receive any compensation for your claim.
In a personal injury case, damages may include various types of harm, such as physical injuries like brain damage, spinal injuries, and burns, as well as emotional, mental, and physical pain and suffering. Financial losses such as lost income, permanent scarring, disability, impairments, and long-term medical care may also be considered damages. Additionally, costs for personal care, help with daily activities, loss of earning potential, and decreased quality of life may also be included.
The value of a personal injury claim depends on the severity of the injuries and losses incurred. Generally, more severe injuries and permanent disabilities result in higher compensation. It is essential to have proper documentation to support the damages included in your injury claim.
However, the other party may claim that you played a role in causing the injury. Under California’s comparative fault laws, you can still receive compensation for your injuries even if you are partially at fault for the accident. However, your compensation will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you.
Call Our San Diego Personal Injury Lawyers If You’ve Been a Victim of Negligence
Above all, it’s important to remember that you should always reach out to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible due in large part to the fact that there is a statute of limitations in California when it comes to personal injury matters. To avoid being time barred and not receiving the compensation that you deserve, reach out to HHJ Trial Attorneys today. Our team is here for you and will help to walk you through the process. Get in touch with us today at 619-INJURED.