Laws

Personal Injury: How to Determine Negligence

Negligence

Have you or someone you know suffered an injury as a result of the negligent actions of another person?

Each year in the United States, there are more than 40 million lawsuits are filed.

Lawsuits vary in severity. When you are hurt by someone else’s negligence, you must hire an attorney to represent you. Read on to learn how to establish negligence before you decide to hire an attorney!

What Is Negligence?

It’s important to understand how to define negligence and the ways to establish this cause of action. Each person owes a duty of care to act as a reasonably prudent person would in a given situation.

For example, someone driving a vehicle owes other drivers on the road has that duty of care owed to others. If it is raining, you’d check the driver’s conduct against how other drivers should act.

To prove a cause of action for negligence, a plaintiff must establish the four main elements. These are duty, breach, causation, and damages.

Breach

If someone owes you a duty of care, you’ll need to show that they breached that duty as part of your negligence case. In short, their actions must have fallen short of what the law requires of them.

For example, when someone is driving their car through the rain, are they speeding? Are these actions unreasonable given these weather conditions? Is the driver paying attention to what’s going on around them?

If a driver speeds 20 miles per hour over the speed limit or runs a red light because they aren’t paying attention, these are examples of a breach.

Causation

Proving causation is crucial in any negligence case and something you must understand before bringing a claim. A defendant’s breach of their duty of reasonable care must be the proximate cause of your injuries.

What is proximate causation? This means that the actions or in-actions by a defendant must be sufficiently connected to the damages to be the legal cause.

For example, if the driver speeding in the rainy weather collides with a car that runs a red light, and that car then strikes you, there will be a dispute over who is the proximate cause of your injuries. After all, not one, but two drivers broke the law and the end was result was that your vehicle was struck.

Causation is a popular point of contention between parties in a negligence claim and court during a lawsuit.

Damages

Your damages are a general term for a wide range of different costs. These are the result of you being a victim of another person’s negligence. There are a lot of different elements to your damages in a negligence claim.

Some of the most common types of damages are the costs of medical treatment, property damage, future medical costs, and lost wages. Sometimes, when you are a victim of serious injuries, you may seek the recovery of pain and suffering damages.

If you are injured by the negligence of someone while working on the job, you may seek the recovery of damages by hiring a workers’ compensation attorney! Work accidents can have a life-changing impact on your life and change the course of your employment forever.

Medical Treatment

Damages for medical treatment include a wide range of costs you incur after the accident. For many victims, medical damages begin when they are transported to the hospital by an ambulance.

Once at the hospital, did you receive medical treatment that was not covered by your health insurance coverage? Did you undergo an operation or many different operations to fix damages to muscles or bones in your body after the accident?

Your damages for medical treatment also extend further than the care you receive at a hospital. Did you attend physical therapy as a result of your injuries in the accident?

All of the medical costs you incur after a car crash can be used to increase your damages claim for negligence against the other driver(s).

Property Damage

If you in a car crash with injuries to you or your passengers, it’s almost certain you will also have property damage. These costs may be for repairing your vehicle, paying for replacing personal property, and other expenses.

For example, if your vehicle is hit by one or both cars during an accident in the rain, you may have property damage claims to make against those drivers!

Future Medical Costs

Sometimes the victim in a car crash has serious and/or life-threatening injuries. Even if injuries don’t threaten death, they can be life-changing in the sense that the victim will never live the same way again.

As a plaintiff with those kinds of injuries, you may be entitled to receive money for future medical costs. This can include the expected prices you will pay for medical treatment in the future. These are things like future physical therapy, operations, and the cost of daily care.

You are only able to sue someone once for injuries you suffer in an accident with that person. This means you can’t come around and sue a driver each year or every couple of years to recover money as you need it.

You must ensure that whatever future medical costs your doctors believe you will need are covered or you may have to cover these out of your pocket!

Lost Wages

When you are first in a car accident, one of the last things that may cross your mind is how it will impact your short- and long-term earning potential.

Once things settle down after your accident, you may come to learn that it will be a while before you are back on the job again. In the most extreme situations, you may not be able to return to work at all.

Whether you are out of the office for two weeks, two years, or forever, you may be entitled to receive your lost wages from the negligent party.

When you recover damages for lost wages, these are the income you would have received from your employer if the negligent driver had never caused the accident.

Pain and Suffering

Have you ever heard the term ‘pain and suffering damages’? In a negligence cause of action, these are damages which a plaintiff seeks to recover as a result of the pain and suffering caused by a defendant driver.

Pain and suffering are the kind of damages that a jury will award to a plaintiff when the jurors believe the situation warrants it and there is legal and factual support for them.

Sending a Demand Letter

When you hire a negligence attorney to represent you in your case, one of the first things they will do with you is sit down with you. This meeting will give them an inside look at the factual and legal arguments that may be able to make on your behalf.

Your attorney will also speak with you about the medical treatment you’ve undergone to date. They will also discuss the opinions of your doctors about your condition. Your attorney may send you to another set of doctors so that they can check your condition.

Your lawyer will also request you sign a document to release medical records to his office. This will allow him to review those documents and include them in a demand letter to the negligent party.

In a demand letter, your attorney will present your case in the light most favorable to your side. They will also include medical records and make a demand for payment of damages.

Filing a Lawsuit

Sometimes a demand letter will be enough to make a negligent party or their insurance company realize that they need to resolve the case then. It’s not uncommon though, for the other side to reject your opening demand and force you to file a lawsuit.

In the Complaint, your attorney will assert factual allegations that support causes of action such as negligence. Once the other side is served with a copy of the Complaint and the summons, they have 20 days from then to file a response.

After the parties close the pleadings in the case (meaning an Answer and Affirmative Defenses have been filed), the parties will proceed to discovery. This will give all parties the chance to learn more about the case through paper discovery and by taking depositions of any witnesses.

Establishing Negligence in Your Case

Establishing negligence in your case is an important part of how to win a lawsuit. Learn about this cause of action before you begin shopping for the best attorney. This way you will have a better understanding of what your case takes and the kind of attorney you need in your corner!

Are you interested in learning about other ways to leverage the experience and training of a lawyer after your accident? Check out our blog section for other great posts to help you navigate the legal process with your case!

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