Personal Injury Negligence

How to Prove Negligence in a Personal Injury Case

Many personal injury claims are heavily based on the idea of negligence. In many situations, it’s not enough that you were harmed; if you want to seek compensation, you have to prove that someone’s negligence was the cause of your injury. Proving negligence can be complicated, but with the right personal injury lawyer, you can fight for the compensation you deserve.

Ready to start your personal injury claim? It’s time to talk to the team at Olmstead & Olmstead. Call us at 703-260-8752 to set up a consultation with our team right away.

Elements of Negligence

There are several elements you must prove in order to demonstrate another party’s negligence. We’ll break them down further:

  • Duty of care
  • Breach of duty
  • Causation
  • Damages

Proving the Duty of Care

A duty of care is an individual’s obligation to take reasonable caution to avoid causing harm to others. The key word here is “reasonable.” An individual’s duty of care looks a little bit different in each type of claim. A driver’s duty of care is to avoid reckless actions that increase the risk of an accident. Dog owners’ duty of care is to keep their dog leashed, fenced, or otherwise physically under their control. Property owners have a duty of care to keep their property in a reasonably safe state.

Showing a Breach

When someone breaches their duty of care, they increase the likelihood of causing harm to someone. There are numerous ways one can breach their duty, depending on the situation.

Consider a car accident claim—imagine you were hit by a driver who was texting and driving, and as a result, rear-ended you at a stoplight. They were clearly not exercising reasonable caution, as texting while driving is inherently unsafe. Insurance companies expect each person to do their part to avoid an accident, which may lead to blame being assigned incorrectly. 

Imagine a left-turn accident. A driver is going straight on a green light. As they approach the interaction going the speed limit, a driver turns left in front of them without any warning. It would not be reasonable to expect the first driver to anticipate the other driver’s actions and somehow evade them.

One more example: you’re bitten by a dog that is walking leash-free with its owner. The owner insists that the dog is so well-trained that a leash is not necessary, but when the dog sees you, it lunges at you and bites you on the hand. If the owner had been exercising reasonable caution, they would have had their dog on a leash.

Demonstrating Causation

From there, you must show that the other person’s duty of care led to your injury. This is where some personal injury claims fall apart. You need to show that had the other party not taken the actions they did, you would not have been injured. This is one reason you’re encouraged to seek medical care right away after an incident; the sooner you see a doctor after an injury, the easier it is to link it to the accident.

Wondering if you can link the other party’s actions to your injuries? Ask yourself this: would a reasonable person be able to foresee the possibility of your injuries? If someone’s texting and driving, any reasonable person would recognize that a crash is a likely outcome. If someone leaves their crumbling, rotting staircase in a state of disrepair, any reasonable person would expect someone to get injured at some point.

Highlighting Your Damages

Finally, you have to show that you have actual damages as a result of the other person’s actions. You can keep copies of medical bills and medical records, proof of time away from work, documentation of your pain and suffering, and repair estimates to prove property damage. Be prepared to show that your losses are linked to the other person’s actions.

Explore Your Legal Options with Olmstead & Olmstead

It’s time to find out if you have a strong personal injury claim. Let’s sit down and talk about your claim and your next steps. Call us at 703-260-8752 or get in touch with our team online. We’ll look at the facts of your case and help you figure out how to proceed.

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