For legal purposes, negligence refers to a person’s actions or failure to act in accordance with a duty owed to another person. If you intend on having a personal injury lawyer file a claim on your behalf, it is not sufficient to simply state that the defendant acted negligently in some way. There are four elements of negligence for every personal injury claim. A personal injury lawyer building a case in Tracy or Livermore must demonstrate that each element is present.
Duty of Care
This first element is often the easiest to prove. The personal injury lawyer must demonstrate that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. In auto accident cases, for example, this means that the defendant owed a duty of care to drive in a reasonably safe manner, such as by obeying traffic signals. In some cases; however, proving that a duty of care existed can become more complicated. For instance, in dog bite cases, a dog’s owner may not owe a duty of care to a trespasser on private property who is bitten by the dog.
Breach of Duty
The second element of a personal injury case involves proving that the defendant somehow breached the duty of care. In an auto accident case, this may be accomplished by using the police report to prove that the defendant ran a red light.
Causation of Injury
Thirdly, the injury lawyer must prove that the breach of duty of care directly led to the plaintiff’s injuries. For instance, if the defendant ran a red light and immediately struck the plaintiff’s car, then it’s usually clear that the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the defendant’s actions. However, if the defendant ran a red light and did not strike the plaintiff’s car until he or she had traveled several miles, these two actions may not necessarily have a causal relationship.
Causation of Damages
Finally, personal injury lawyers must prove that the plaintiff has incurred losses as a result of the injuries. This is typically accomplished with medical bills. Future damages may also be calculated, such as the loss of future wages if the plaintiff’s injuries prevent him or her from working.