What's Negligence in a Personal Injury Case?

If you're pursuing a personal injury case, you (as the plaintiff) have the burden of proving that the at-fault party was responsible for your accident and injuries. One way this is done is by relying on the theory of negligence. Essentially, by using this legal concept, you're stating that the person you're taking action against acted or failed to act in a way that violated the duty they owed you and caused you harm.

Specifically, you must prove the following:

  • Duty of care: This element requires that you demonstrate that the at-fault party (called the defendant) had a responsibility to prevent harm from befalling you. Nearly any time you interact with someone or are on their property, they owe you this duty. For example, if you're at a store, the property owner must ensure that the premises is free of hazardous conditions that may result in harm to others.
  • Breach of duty: The next element you must prove is that the defendant breached the duty of care. In other words, they did something or didn't do something that was expected of them. The test of whether the duty was violated is whether a reasonable person in the same circumstances would have acted or not acted in the same way. Returning to the example of a store owner's duty, if they knew there was a crack in the floor that could cause someone to trip and fall, they are responsible for timely addressing that hazard. If they did not get the crack repaired or place warning signs around the area until it was fixed, they could be said to have breached their duty of care.
  • Causation: After you have shown that the defendant owed you a duty and violated it, you must then demonstrate that because of the breach, you suffered an accident. In other words, you must prove that the person's action or inaction was the reason for your accident. If, for example, someone's foot got caught in the crack at the hypothetical store mentioned earlier, and they fell and suffered a head injury, the owner's negligence may be considered to have caused the fall.
  • Damages: Lastly, to pursue a case under the concept of negligence, you must prove that you sustained damages. Damages refer to expenses or losses you incurred, such as medical costs or lost wages. If no harm was caused, there's nothing to seek compensation for.

At Goline & Roland Law Firm, we're here to help you understand the avenues for seeking justice in your personal injury case. Speak with our Denton team by calling (940) 400-0475 or contacting us online.