You may have sustained injuries due to a motor vehicle accident, medical malpractice, or even a slip and fall accident because of someone else’s negligence. And for this, you can get compensation if you file an injury case.
Injury cases are legal disputes in court to get justice against the person responsible for your accident. Injury victims need to satisfy certain elements to prove that the party was negligent. Let’s have a look at them below:
- Duty Of Care
The first thing you must prove before a person or company can be found liable for your injury is whether they owed you a legal duty of care. To be owed a duty of care means they were obligated to prevent you from harm when in their care. For this to happen, a legal relationship between you (the plaintiff) and the offending party (the defendant) must occur.
- Drivers owe a duty of care to passengers aboard their vehicles by being mindful on the road to protect them from harm.
- Manufacturers and distributors have an obligation to ensure that they provide information and proper instructions on the use and potential risks associated with their products.
- Doctors are expected to apply a reasonable standard of care in their fields when treating patients.
- Property owners are responsible for keeping their premises reasonably safe from potential hazards.
If the principals fail in their duty of care in the situations above, they can be liable for negligence.
- Breach of Duty
The next step in establishing negligence in a personal injury case is to prove whether the defendant’s action or inaction breached the duty of care. In particular, if the defendant did not act reasonably in the circumstances. The word ‘reasonable’ measures the standard of how an average person would behave in similar circumstances. Therefore, the defendant would be found to have breached the duty of care if they acted or failed to act in a certain way to avert the harm caused to you.
Some breach of duty scenarios include:
- A driver who causes an accident while overspeeding or is involved in frolics while driving and got passengers harmed.
- A doctor prescribes the wrong medicine to a patient, which causes allergic reactions in the patient.
- A manufacturing company that fails to provide proper instructions on the use of its product causes harm to the consumer.
For negligence in an injury case to be established, you must prove that the negligent acts or omissions of the defendant are what caused your injury.
Causation is divided into two parts, namely:
- Cause in fact
- Proximate cause
Cause in fact or actual cause is proved by using the ‘but-for’ test. It is where you ask the question:
‘But for the defendant’s negligent acts, would I have suffered the injuries?’
The answer will determine whether or not the defendant’s acts or omissions are what caused your injury. If the answer is yes, you may move to the next determining factor to prove causation.
In proximate cause, you have to prove that the actual event caused your injury or that the event can directly be tied to your injury rather than the intervening events. The proximate cause can also be the result of a series of events. For instance, a driver may lose control and veer off the road, colliding with another car which, in turn, hits a post that falls on a pedestrian. In this event, the driver will be held liable for the injuries of the pedestrian even though he was not directly responsible.
Proving that the defendant failed in their duty of care is not enough. You must also prove that the breach resulted in actual harm referred to legally as damages. Damages are compensated financially and are meant to restore the loss you suffered resulting from the injury sustained.
Damages are either special or general:
- Special damages can be quantified through evidence of the expenses you incurred from the injury. They can be hospital bills, lost employment, physical therapy, or nursing home care expenses.
- Monetary value can only be attached to general damages after assessment as provided by the land laws. Some examples of general damages are; pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, loss of consortium, and future medical expenses.
Punitive damages are not compensatory but are awarded in rare circumstances and are only meant to punish the offending party if their actions were reckless.
You have to prove the duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages of the offending party for them to be held liable for negligence and compensate you for your loss.