What is Required to Prove Negligence in a Personal Injury Case?

By Peter DePaolis

If you got hurt in an accident, you might wonder if you meet the legal requirements to pursue a personal injury claim seeking compensation for your losses. Most personal injury cases have their basis in negligence.

A DC personal injury attorney could advocate for you if you got injured due to someone else’s carelessness. Let’s talk about what is required to prove negligence in a personal injury case.

The Elements of Negligence in a Personal Injury Case

Whether you got injured in a car collision, slip and fall accident, or some other type of incident, you might be able to file a claim or a lawsuit seeking money damages for your injuries and losses from the person who caused the accident through carelessness. We will have to prove all four of these elements to hold the defendant accountable to you in a personal injury case:

  1. The defendant owed you a legal duty of care. Let’s use the scenario of a car accident. Every person who operates a motor vehicle and public streets has an obligation to drive with caution and obey the traffic laws.
  2. The defendant breached the legal duty. Failing to live up to a legal standard of care is negligence. In our example, the defendant drove while impaired by alcohol.
  3. The negligence caused the accident that harmed you. Because of his intoxication, the defendant was unable to stop at a red light and struck your vehicle that was legally in the intersection. The defendant’s failure to obey the traffic laws that prohibit drunk driving caused the collision.
  4. You must have quantifiable damages. Physical injuries satisfy this element of liability for negligence. You suffered severe injuries in the collision. This scenario satisfies all four elements of negligence. 

When we can prove all four elements of negligence in a personal injury case, we can go after compensation from the at-fault party. 

What is Negligence Per Se?

Negligence per se is a subset of negligence in personal injury cases. In a negligence per se case, you do not have to prove the specific act of carelessness. You merely need to prove that the at-fault party broke a law or regulation, and that violation caused the incident that harmed you.

For example, if you got hurt because of an accident caused by a speeding driver, you do not have to prove that his driving was careless. Establishing that he drove over the speed limit can be enough, because the law can conclude that causing an accident while breaking the law is inherently negligent. The term negligence per se means negligent in and of itself; in other words, inherently negligent.

Damages in Personal Injury Negligence Claims

When we can establish simple negligence or negligence per se, we can then seek money damages from the at-fault party. Compensation in these cases could include things like medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and ongoing impairment from one’s injuries. A DC personal injury attorney can talk to you and let you know if you might qualify to go after money damages from the careless party who harmed you. Contact our office today for a free consultation.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.