If you’re the victim of an accident, you have questions. How will I pay my medical bills? Will I return to work? Will I make a full recovery? Do I have grounds for a lawsuit? Every accident is different, but when it comes to personal injury litigation, there are some commonalities. This article will explore the four elements that an attorney must establish to win a personal injury case.
1 Duty of Care
The first element that a personal injury lawyer must prove is that the defendant had a duty of care. What this means varies depending on the type of case this is. Here are some examples of the duty of care:
- A dog owner has the responsibility to keep their dog leashed, fenced, vaccinated against rabies, and under control.
- The owner or manager of an establishment has the responsibility to make certain that the premises are safe for visitors.
- A medical professional has the duty to offer sound medical advice that’s consistent with the standards for the medical field.
- The manufacturer of a product must ensure that the goods that they sell are safe for use.
- All drivers have a duty of care to be attentive and to comply with the rules of the roadway.
2 Breach of Duty
Once the duty of care has been established, a personal injury lawyer must show that the individual or party that had the duty of care somehow breached that duty. This can be shown in a number of ways. To continue with our examples:
- A dog owner failed to vaccinate their animal or let it get out without a leash or other control.
- A restaurant owner failed to clean up a spill.
- A doctor made a surgical mistake or made a recommendation that most doctors wouldn’t, and it had deleterious effects.
- A product administers an electric shock to users.
- The driver of a car runs a red light.
The third element of negligence is causation. This means that the negligence of the defendant actually caused the accident. For instance, cars run red lights all the time, but not all of them are responsible for accidents. Causation connects the responsible party with the damages, which is our fourth element.
None of this would mean anything if the plaintiff didn’t suffer damages. If there is no harm from an accident, then there is no case. In personal injury law, damages are broken down into two categories: economic and noneconomic.
These include anything that can be assessed as a monetary value, including medical bills, hospitalization, physical therapy, property damage, and lost income. If you’ve been injured in an accident, you’re entitled to compensation for all of these items.
Not all injuries are tangible. “Pain and suffering” is a term that civil defense attorneys use to describe intangible loss, such as quality of life, diminished capacity, inconvenience, emotional trauma, and physical pain.
Beyond these four elements of accident negligence, personal injury lawsuits can be extremely complex. If you’ve been injured in an accident and you think you might be entitled to damages, you should contact a personal injury lawyer in your area. 1-800-Injured is an attorney referral service that connects you with an injury lawyer in your area.