Nearly every personal injury case involves the legal concept of negligence.
The term negligence revolves around the idea that the person who caused your accident owed you a certain level of care. Their failure to provide you with that level of care led directly to the accident and your injuries. As a result, you experienced damages in the form of money lost.
Here, we’ll go further into all four elements of proving negligence in a personal injury case.
Note that understanding and proving the four parts of negligence can be difficult for someone who has not studied law nor practiced it professionally. They must rely on an experienced personal injury lawyer in Atlanta to help them build their case, assemble the needed evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies.
If you want assistance with your personal injury case or have specific legal questions, you can schedule a free, no-obligation case review right now. Simply call 404-800-9933 or contact us online.
The Four Parts of Negligence
Every negligence claim has four main components
- Duty of care: The other person had a responsibility to provide you with a certain level of care.
- Breach: The other person did not provide that level of care, either by violating the law, by acting recklessly, or by failing to act in a manner that a “reasonable person” would.
- Causation: The failure to provide that level of care was the direct cause of your injuries.
- Damages: You experienced a financial loss because of the injuries.
In order to win your case, your lawyer must prove each of those four elements.
Examples of Negligence
Many types of negligence could result in a personal injury to someone. These include:
- Car accidents caused by speeding
- Truck accidents caused by drowsy truck drivers
- Violent crimes resulting from inadequate security
- Falls or other injuries that happen on private property
- Dog bites from a known dangerous dog
- Defective products
- Medical malpractice
Proving the Four Parts of Negligence
To build a solid negligence claim, you and your personal injury attorney in Atlanta need to be prepared to prove each component, one by one.
1. Duty of Care
Establishing a duty of care can involve researching specific laws that the defendant may have violated. In instances where there is no specific, relevant law or where the laws are vague, you and your attorney may need to rely upon the testimony of expert witnesses to establish that the “reasonable person” standard was violated. For cases involving violations by professionals, such as a truck driver or surgeon, the expert witness may need to testify that the individual at hand violated the expected standards of care established by their profession.
Proving a breach goes hand-in-hand with documenting the law or standard that was breached. Evidence of a breach of care can include a confession, eyewitness testimony that a driver was distracted, a BAC measurement over 0.08 from a driver, or proof that a company neglected to monitor safety logs to the degree expected. The defendant’s “breach” is essentially their negligent act, so this element of a case is extremely important.
Once you have demonstrated that the defendant owed a duty to you, the plaintiff, and that the defendant breached that duty, you must show that the defendant’s breach of that duty is both the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s harm. If these terms sound foreign to you, it would be a great idea to hire an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer to help you.
Proving that you have an injury involves two main components: documenting your injury, and establishing that your injury occurred in direct connection to the defendant’s breach in their duty of care. Some cases may involve a defendant obviously flouting the law or acting negligent, but that negligence may be seen as irrelevant to the actual injury that occurred. This is especially true in cases involving contributory negligence, as discussed in further detail below.
Medical documentation is the most important form of injury evidence. Detailed notes from a treating physician should relate the injury to its cause and establish the severity of the injury from a medical perspective. The time it takes to heal, the risk to the patient’s longevity, the amount of debilitation an injury causes, and the risk of long-term effects all describe the injury and how severe it is.
Documenting financial damages involves tracking medical billing as well as other losses. Injury victims should save all of their discharges, receipts, and information regarding things like copays and insurance costs. Certain out-of-pocket expenses may also be relevant, such as the cost of parking near a clinic where the patient receives necessary treatment.
Lost wages are a particularly important area to track for injury victims. They must be prepared to prove their typical earnings over an average of the past several months as well as the income they receive now. For regular 9-5 jobs, this process can be relatively easy, but for injury victims who work irregular hours, work on a contract basis, or who receive things like commission, the process of documenting lost wages can be more difficult and complex.
A personal injury lawyer will help you document every last cent of losses related to your injury-causing accident or incident. These damages will then be listed in a demand letter to relevant insurance companies, requesting reimbursement in full.
Your Own Potential Negligence
If you’re found to have contributed to the accident, some of the awarded compensation may be deducted from the final amount. If it’s ruled that you’re at least 50 percent responsible for the accident, you won’t be able to file a personal injury claim against the other person.
This is another reason why you should not speak with the other person’s insurance provider after the accident. They’re likely to ask you leading questions intended to get you to admit full or partial fault.
For example, If the insurer can prove at least some portion of fault, they get to reduce the total damages award or settlement by that amount. If they can document that the injury victim was 50 percent or more responsible, then they can potentially avoid any liability even if the case went to trial.
It is important to remember that legal matters are not finalized until a settlement is signed or a trial verdict is reached, so even though some tactics may make scary allegations, they are not the final determinants of a case’s chances at success.
How Negligence Affects Liability
In many truck accidents, the person responsible is covered by an insurance company. That insurance company will fight to make sure they pay out as little money as possible. To get compensation for your injuries and other losses, you must prove that the other person was liable. Liability is simply the legal term for responsibility.
In most cases, liability stems from negligence. If you can prove the other person acted negligently, you can prove they are responsible (or liable) for your losses. However, in some cases, the other person may have intentionally acted to injure you, such as if you’re the victim of a crime. If you can prove the other person acted intentionally to cause harm, you can prove they are liable for your injuries.
Prove Negligence with an Experienced Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer
Proving all of the parts of negligence can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with an insurance company that wants to implicate you for being at fault for your injuries.
Work with a proven Atlanta personal injury team from the Rafi Law Firm. We have a history of winning cases for our clients, and we will do everything we can to give it the highest chances of success. Let us document all of the parts of negligence and calculate 100% of your losses to get you the best settlement offer available. If the defendant refuses to settle, we are willing to file a lawsuit and take your case to trial to seek the compensation you need.
Learn more about your legal options and the strategies you could use to seek the maximum available compensation during a free, no-obligation consultation with a personal injury lawyer. Call 404-800-9933 or contact us online today to schedule your free case review.