Establishing Negligence and Liability in a Personal Injury Case
At the center of all personal injury cases is the matter of negligence. If a party causes harm or injury as a result of a negligent act or omission, they can be held liable in a civil action. If you are seeking damages in an auto accident or other personal injury claim, you are likely wondering what you will need to prove. This article provides an overview of negligence and details what elements need to be established in order to prove liability.
Were you injured in an accident caused by someone else’s wrongdoing? If so, you have the right to compensation. The Virginia personal injury attorneys at Coletrane & Messersmith are dedicated to protecting the rights of injured victims and ensuring justice is served on their behalf. Call (757) 223-4455 today to speak to an attorney for FREE.
How Liability is Determined
Determining liability depends on the specifics of each case. Proving the other party was negligent and, therefore, liable can be challenging. However, when you work with an experienced personal injury attorney, they will perform a thorough investigation into the accident, determine who was responsible, and collect sufficient evidence to support your claim. This evidence can include the police report, photos and video of the scene, eyewitness accounts, and expert testimony.
Proving Negligence to Establish Liability
Negligence is at the core of virtually all personal injury cases. If you and your attorney aren’t able to prove the other party was negligent, you will likely not be compensated for your losses.
Certain elements must be shown to establish negligence. If you can prove all four elements, you will have successfully shown negligence and, in turn, prove the negligent party is liable for damages.
- Duty of Care - This essentially establishes the obligation the party had to exercise a reasonable level of care to prevent harm or injury. For example, when you go to the doctor and a doctor/patient relationship is established, your physician has a duty to provide a level of care other physicians would provide in a similar situation.
- Breach of Duty - You and your lawyer will need to show the other party breached their duty. For instance, all motorists have a responsibility to operate their vehicles in a safe manner. This means they have a duty to obey traffic laws, stay focused, and not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while driving. If the person who hit you was drunk at the time and, therefore, operating their vehicle in an unsafe manner, they breached their duty of care.
- Causation - To prove causation, you will need to show that, if not for the other party’s actions or inaction, you would not have suffered harm, injury, or illness. Causation is easy to establish in many cases such as a medical malpractice case involving a wrong-site surgery. But in some cases, the other party will argue a plaintiff’s injury was not caused by their actions but rather resulted from a pre-existing condition.
- Damages - The final element that must be established is damages. Proving a party acted negligently is not enough to secure compensation. You must show you suffered losses as a result. Personal injury claimants can seek recover for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and more.
The Benefits of Working with a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you wish to seek damages from a negligent party, keep in mind that the insurance company will make every attempt to dispute your claim. That is why having a qualified legal team on your side is essential. An experienced attorney can anticipate what the insurance company will claim to try to minimize or avoid a payout. Therefore, they will know what is needed to refute those claims and establish liability. Hiring an injury lawyer will give you the best chance of a full financial recovery.
Call Coletrane & Messersmith Today to Learn More
Establishing liability in some cases is straightforward. But in some cases, there may be some question as to what role each of the parties played in the accident. If you were injured in a car crash or other accident and want to exercise your right to seek compensation for your losses, it is important to work with an experienced legal team.
At Coletrane & Messersmith, we are proud to represent victims injured as a result of someone else’s negligence. Our Newport News personal injury lawyers fight to get the maximum compensation possible in each and every case. Insurance companies will do all they can to avoid liability. That is why, without the help of a skilled attorney, you might not get the compensation you deserve. Take the first step in protecting your rights by contacting us online or calling (757) 223-4455 to arrange a complimentary consultation.