Personal injury disputes usually involve a negligent party who is the defendant and a victim who is the plaintiff. While personal injury disputes will vary, typical examples include a victim rear-ended by another driver, a victim slipped and fell on a store’s wet floor, or a company that knowingly sold a faulty or harmful product to the victim.
The plaintiff has the burden of proof in a personal injury case. This means that they must prove that the defendant’s careless negligence caused property damage, physical harm or death.
The 5 elements of negligence
There are five elements for proving a defendant’s negligence:
- Duty: This means the defendant had an obligation to perform specific actions under the circumstances, such as seeing brake lights or mopping a wet floor to make it less slippery.
- Breach: This occurs when the negligent party does not fulfill their duty, such as not braking when they see the car in front of them stopped or not cleaning up a spill.
- Cause in fact: The defendant’s breach causes injury to the victim, such as the impact of a car crash or slip and fall causing back and neck injury.
- Proximate cause: This addresses the issue where the negligence was foreseeable as causing damages, such as a distracted driver knowing they could cause a crash.
- Damages: A plaintiff will often seek financial compensation for damages to the victim or their property.
Proving negligence is not always easy
Personal injury claims can involve complex injuries or questions regarding the above definition of negligence. Some individuals would instead settle these cases quickly and move on, while others lean on legal guidance to pursue proof of negligence through litigation.