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How Do You Prove Negligence?

Were you injured through someone else’s negligence, or did you lose a loved one through a wrongful death caused by another’s mistakes? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys serve our clients as legal advocates to ensure they get the compensation they deserve.

Contact our legal team at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our law office remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

Negligence is a legal term referring to the failure to act as a reasonable person would. In other words, negligence is when someone fails to take steps they should have taken or not, resulting in harm.

Negligence can be unintentional, like being distracted by something else and walking into traffic without looking. The negligent act does not necessarily mean you were trying to cause harm, but it does show your negligence in paying attention.

Any negligent act by one person or company causing injuries to another creates liability problems for those that acted irresponsibly. Therefore, to obtain financial compensation through a personal injury case, the victim (plaintiff) or attorney must prove how the other person or entity is legally liable for the damages caused by their negligence.

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Proving negligence is a crucial component of a successful personal injury case.

The Law of Negligence

The law of negligence encompasses any action which causes harm or injury to someone. For example, motorists who drive recklessly, injuring others, are considered negligent and liable for the damages caused.

There is no intent behind a wrongful act in some negligence cases, much like a dog biting someone’s hand. In those cases, the dog’s owner may be found legally liable because they knew or should have known the dog’s dangerous tendencies but took no appropriate precautions to ensure everyone’s safety.

Negligence can be divided into three categories: contributory negligence, comparative negligence, and absolute liability.

  • Contributory negligence happens when an individual contributes in some way to a personal injury by doing something reckless, careless, or with intent.
  • Comparative negligence happens when two parties are negligent, but one party’s actions were more significant than the other person’s actions.
  • Absolute liability involves committing an act that harms someone else, creating an automatic liability for the accident, disregarding if it was intentional or not.

Not every person injured through another’s negligent or reckless actions is entitled to file a personal injury claim. Instead, the law requires proving negligence, typically through proximate cause, to show that the plaintiff suffered an injury caused by the defendant.

Intentional Torts

Some victims who suspect they have a negligence case might file a lawsuit based on intentional tort when the defendant deliberately causes the plaintiff harm, even if the unexpected act involves reckless behavior.

Typically, intentional torts usually do not involve acts deemed unforeseeable, like an unexpected act of nature that led to the defendant’s liability.

Proving Negligence

Typically, a victim harmed by another’s negligent or intentional act seeking compensation must prove negligence showing how that person or entity was responsible. However, the existence of a legal duty to ensure your safety depends on specific circumstances.

For example, homeowners must keep their property safe and in repair for occupants, visitors, and invitees. Also, apartment managers must maintain their buildings in good repair to avoid accidents leading to property damage, injuries, or death.

In cases where the defendant breached their duty of care to the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s injury or damages prove the defendant’s negligence.

The law recognizes relationships where duties arise between the plaintiff, where the defendant has a legal obligation to exercise reasonable care. The injured party can take legal action when the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care based on what someone else would do under similar circumstances.

The four elements of proving negligence include:

  • A legal duty – The first element involves a person or company responsible for acting a certain way. For example, a driver is required to drive within posted speed limits.
  • Breach of duty – The second element defines how the defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty and that the defendant’s breach of duty resulted in an injury or damages. For example, if the driver breaks the law by speeding and causes an accident, they have broken their legal responsibility to provide a safe environment when sharing the road.
  • Actual injury or damage – The third element identifies how the defendant’s actions injured the party in a factually accurate and provable way. The judge will not find the defendant negligent if the victim had no actual property damage or injury due to the accident or event.
  • Causation – The final element identifies how the breach of duty caused harm, including the plaintiff’s injury or damages. For example, if two people are in a car accident and one is injured while the other does not receive any injuries, there is no liability for speeding because the car crash was not caused by speeding.

In many cases, the injury resulted from a proximate cause involving a breach of duty, proving that it was not caused by something else. Produced foreseeable consequences are often the result of proximate cause (legal cause) when no one else intervenes.

For example, if someone breaks their arm due to fall from a tree outside a car’s window, it is not reasonable for them to claim damages.

Ordinary Prudence

Not all people or companies are responsible for ensuring safety based on the elements of negligence.
People who are not duty-bound to act a particular way cannot be negligent. So, for example, if someone pulls over to help an animal in a busy area and gets hit by a car that wasn’t paying attention, they cannot be guilty of negligence.

Proving fault is different than determining fault that is often the basis of most disputes involving negligent injury, accidents, and wrongful death. It is not required to show how the defendant knew that any specific manner would lead to the plaintiff’s harm.

However, to determine liability, the defendant’s failure to behave must be equal to how an average person of ordinary prudence would have acted under the same circumstances. Thus, in some cases, an act of omission like failing to help someone in distress might not be cause to sue.

Reasonable Person, Expert Witnesses, and Standards of Conduct

In many personal injury cases, the plaintiff will need an expert witness to establish how the responsible party (defendant) failed to adhere to expected conduct in how a reasonably prudent person would have acted under similar circumstances.

In many cases, the jurors cannot determine from personal experience if the pharmaceutical medication the physician prescribed was reasonably appropriate to treat the patient’s medical condition or illness.

However, an expert might provide the basic information needed to the jurors beyond their shared knowledge, using scientific theory, tests, data, and experience to prove the case. For example, a medical expert can establish what is expected of a medical professional in providing treatment or care to a patient under similar circumstances.

Everyone is governed by state and federal statutes, administrative regulations, or municipal ordinances that impose standards of conduct. For example, municipal laws prohibit motorists from driving through a red light—any individual injured by someone who ignored that law can use that evidence to prove negligence.

However, the evidence might not prove that the defendant owed anyone a duty of care, violated the local statute or law or that their actions were unreasonable. It is up to the plaintiff or their attorney to prove how the law intended to protect against specific hazards that caused the plaintiff injury.

Hire a Personal Injury Attorney to Prove Negligence in Your Injury Claim

Did your doctor’s misdiagnosis injure you? Were you involved in an auto accident that led to your injuries? Did the negligent actions of someone else cause your loved one’s wrongful death?

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our accident negligence attorneys provide legal representation to People injured through another’s negligence or intentional act. Our attorneys have a comprehensive understanding of civil tort law and build cases to ensure our clients receive maximum monetary compensation for their damages.

Contact an experienced personal injury attorney at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation for legal advice. All confidential and sensitive information you share with our law office remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

We accept all injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits through contingency fee agreements. This arrangement ensures you pay nothing until we successfully resolve your case through a negotiated settlement or jury award.

Our law firm provides legal services in various practice areas, including car accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home neglect, premises liability, defective medical devices, product liability, harmful drugs, slips & falls, and wrongful death.

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Many clients with million-dollar civil lawsuits have already received their monetary award through jury verdicts and negotiated settlements. Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule your free appointment to discuss how to seek justice for the injuries caused by the defendant’s actions.