The most common legal theory in personal injury claim cases is proving negligence. The negligence principle holds that if a person fails to act according to accepted standards of conduct to minimize the foreseeable risk of harm to others, they are guilty of negligence. As a result, the individual may be required to reimburse victims for any losses they incurred due to their mistake.
Before you can hold someone or a company legally responsible for the harm you suffered, you must establish a negligence theory. Negligence is usually required in claims resulting from accidents or injuries, such as automobile collisions and “slip and fall” instances.
In a negligence lawsuit, four elements must be proved in court: duty, breach, causation, and harm. Let’s look at each one individually and decide which aspect is the most challenging to prove.
But first, what is negligence?
What Is a Negligence Claim, and How Does Someone File One?
A negligence claim typically revolves around a plaintiff’s injury that the defendant caused. To prove that someone is responsible for your accident, you must establish that they breached their duty of care to you and that this breach led directly to your injuries or damages.
Some actions are so negligent that they will automatically entitle the victim to recover damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering damages, emotional distress damages, funeral expenses in wrongful death cases, etc.
What Are the Four Elements of Negligence?
For you to prove negligence claims in any court of law, you must follow standard elements. These include duty, breach, causation, and harm. Let’s explore each one separately to see how difficult it might be to establish to meet the legal threshold necessary for your case.
As you can imagine, duty is the first step because it establishes that the defendant has a legal obligation to follow reasonable care in their actions.
Since this requirement establishes an objective standard, it can be affected by any number of considerations. In certain instances, the claimant’s and defendant’s relationships might create a legal duty. A doctor, for example, owes a legal duty of care to a patient.
Another example is a company owner who owes a legal duty of care to the public and their workers in maintaining safe conditions on their premises. Inspecting and eliminating hazardous conditions is one way to keep their tenants safe.
Breach of Duty
The second step is establishing that the defendant breached their duty. That means they failed to keep up reasonable safety standards, and this lapse caused an injury or loss. An example can be a doctor’s mistake in diagnosing a sickness, a motorist texting, and driving, or a pet owner’s carelessness in not preventing an attack.
A defendant may be found negligent by a jury if a reasonably prudent person were to:
1. Follow the same standard of behavior as a defendant at a reasonable degree
2. Avoid this type of injury if acting as a reasonably careful person
3. Keep up with safety standards that a reasonable person generally follows in society
However, in most cases, it is necessary to hire a legal expert who will explain why the defendant breached their duty of care.
The third element of a negligence claim proves that the defendant’s breach directly resulted in plaintiff injury. Here it gets a little complicated because establishing causation means you were injured or suffered damages because of the defendant’s breach of duty.
Therefore, your injury must be linked to the defendant’s breach during the period that they are responsible for their negligent behavior. If you can prove that the defendant was careless in allowing a wet floor to exist, and you fall due to a slippery floor in a supermarket and can establish negligent conduct, your claim may go to court.
However, you cannot simply assume that your injury is linked to their negligence if it happened long after they ceased maintaining the condition. The time limit for filing a claim will vary from state to state, but you must file your lawsuit within this period. If there is no evidence that the defendant’s negligence caused your injury, then you cannot prove causation, and your case fails.
The majority of the time, proving causation in medical malpractice is the most difficult part to do. Medical negligence refers to a situation in which a patient is subjected to medical care or treatment that does not adhere to accepted practice norms, resulting in actual injury.
The law places the burden of proof in a medical negligence claim on the patient, who must show that a doctor deviated from the acceptable standard of conduct and caused damage. To establish whether a departure from the acceptable practice occurred, the patient must first analyze whether a deviation from the standard of care occurred.
You can do this by consulting an experienced medical malpractice attorney, who will investigate and determine whether a departure from the standard of care occurred. For example, to show that a departure from the norm of care occurred, it is necessary to demonstrate that another doctor with comparable training and expertise would or would not have taken the same course of action in similar situations.
It’s difficult to put together and argue a medical malpractice case in court. That’s because medical malpractice is a highly complicated legal field. The most difficult aspect of a medical lawsuit is usually “proving causation.”
Finally, it would be best if you were prepared to demonstrate how your injuries have affected your life and the outcome of the defendant’s negligent behavior.
To do this, you will need an experienced legal professional to help you. Your attorney can advise and prepare a strategy for proving how your injuries have affected your life. It should include how much monetary compensation you should receive.
An injury does not necessarily need to hinder your life permanently for you to recover damages. You can seek compensation for the time and money you spent seeking medical treatment, loss of earnings during recovery, pain and suffering, mental anguish, physical impairment, disfigurement, or disability.
If this is not the case, then another factor (such as under-insurance or policy limits) may be limiting your ability to receive compensation.
Consequences for Being Found Guilty of Negligence in a Court of Law
If you injure someone and the court finds that your negligence caused their harm, you will be held financially responsible for the damages. You may also receive a fine or even jail time if your negligence causes injury to another person.
Negligence is difficult to prove. If you consider filing a negligence claim, you must do your research and understand the law well before taking any legal action because failure can have serious repercussions. If you have a question about a possible breach of duty, contact a local personal injury lawyer for more information.