Nov, 2017

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posted in Wilka, Welter & Ash LLP Law Blog.

What You Need to Prove in a Negligence Personal Injury Case

In a great majority of personal injury cases the key factor for holding an individual or company liable or at fault is negligence. In layman’s terms negligence means that the person or company acted in either a careless or neglectful way and as a result another party was injured. It is the basis for personal injury cases involving slips and falls, defective products, car accidents, and a great many others. For those looking for a lawyer in the Sioux Falls area, it helps to have a basic understanding of how the case is tried because a smart client can help their attorney make their case.

In order to win a negligence personal injury case, four elements must be satisfied.

  1. Duty
  2. Breach
  3. Causation
  4. Damages

These will be described in more detail below.

#1. Duty

Duty means that the defendant owed a legal duty to the plaintiff under the circumstances that led to the personal injury. Examples of duty include a number of different circumstances. For instance, a doctor owes a patient a legal duty of care. If a patient is under the care of a doctor and they act in a negligent or careless way when treating the patient, the patient may be entitled to legal compensation. Another instance is a landlord. A landlord owes a tenant a legal duty of care. They must provide their tenants with a livable place to reside. If there are electrical problems with the apartment and these result in a fire, the landlord might be held responsible. A renter may be held responsible for those they invite over. If they slip on unshoveled steps, or are bitten by the renter’s dog, then the renter might be responsible, given the other 3 conditions are met.

#2. Breach

Breach means that the defendant breached their legal duty either by acting in a careless way or failing to act. For instance, if a landlord has heard complaints about bad electricity in an apartment building and then fails to take care of it, that would indicate that they failed to act in accord with their duty to provide a safe residence. The same argument can be made of a homeowner who neglects to shovel their stairs resulting in an injury.

#3. Causation

Here, the plaintiff must prove it was the defendant’s actions or inaction that as a direct result led to the personal injury of the plaintiff. Generally, negligence cases fall apart when a landlord isn’t told beforehand about a potential issue with the property. They can’t be held in breach if they don’t know there’s a problem.

#4. Damages

For a personal injury suit, the plaintiff must show that there were damages as a result of the breach of legal duty.

Hopefully, this helps you make your case.