A Guide to Determining Negligence in Personal Injury Cases

Accidents are horrible events, whether you’re involved in one or witnessed one. Victims often go through immense stress, both physically and financially. It will take a while for the victims to get back to their normal lives.

A Guide to Determining Negligence in Personal Injury Cases

It is at times like this that the victim should seek the help of a personal injury lawyer. Because without a lawyer, the difficulty of getting fair compensation goes up considerably. There’s another advantage to hiring a lawyer. They help find out who the negligent party was in an accident.

Lawyers who represent victims of negligence are well-versed in personal injury law. They use the concepts mentioned in this article to make sure that the person responsible for the accident is the one they’re after.

So, how does that happen?

Finding the negligent party in a personal injury case is rarely a straightforward process. One has to take the four elements of personal injury law into consideration. These elements are important as they establish a link between the accident, the injuries, and the at-fault party.

The Elements of Personal Injury Law

There are four elements of personal injury law. They are:

  1. Duty of Care
  2. Breach of Duty of Care
  3. Causation
  4. Damages

We’ll discuss each of them in the sections below.

Step 1: Establish that the at-fault party owed the victim a duty of care

All citizens owe a duty of care to their fellow citizens. Each citizen is expected to not act in a careless way that would cause some type of harm to others. Their actions and their reactions to the events happening around them must adhere to a standard that one would expect from a reasonable person.

The following are good examples to understand about the duty of care:

  • A property owner owes the duty of care to keep the property free of hazards
  • A car driver owes a duty of care to everyone on the road
  • A doctor owes a duty of care to all the patients they treat
  • A pharmacist owes a duty of care to everyone who approaches them with a prescription
  • A bus driver owes a duty of care to other motorists and the occupants they ferry

Step 2: Prove that the at-fault party breached this duty of care

With the fault party’s duty of care established, the next step is to prove that this duty of care has been breached.

A breach of duty of care means that an individual failed to act with the reasonable standard of care that was expected of them.

Let’s take a look at the five examples mentioned in Step 1 and how breaches of duty of care affect them.

  • The property owner found a hazard on the property but failed to remove it
  • The car driver operates the car while intoxicated
  • The doctor is operating on a patient while meddling with their phone
  • The pharmacist is giving the wrong medication to a person
  • The bus driver takes the wheel while drowsy

Step 3: Prove that the at-fault party’s breach of duty of care caused the accident

The next step is to prove that the at-fault party’s breach of duty of care caused the accident. 

In this step, the victim has to link the at-fault party’s breach with the accident. It is the victim’s responsibility to prove that if the at-fault party maintained the duty of care that was expected from them, the accident would’ve never happened.

Let’s look at the same five examples once again.

  • A renter slipped off the hazard that the property owner failed to remove
  • The intoxicated driver ran a red light and crashed into another car
  • The distracted doctor commits a mistake while operating the patient
  • The wrong medication causes serious harm to the person
  • The bus driver dozes off and rams the bus into a building

A Guide to Determining Negligence in Personal Injury Cases

Step 4: Prove that the accident caused actual damages

The first 3 steps involved finding out how the liable party was responsible for the accident. This last step talks about the damage the victim suffered because of the accident.

The victim may sustain from multiple types of damages. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Emotional disturbances
  • Disability
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium

The victim can claim compensation for these damages, but they should have sufficient evidence to back them up.

Final Thoughts

These four steps will help the victim prove that they suffered damages because of the at-fault party’s negligence. With an experienced personal injury lawyer by the victim’s side, proving negligence, calculating compensation, and negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurance company becomes easy.