Car accidents are incredibly common, as are injuries that occur in car accidents. Unfortunately, sometimes those injuries can be quite serious. When this happens, it can be necessary to pursue financial compensation from the responsible party by filing a personal injury lawsuit. At the heart of these types of lawsuits, the injured party – the “plaintiff” – must prove negligence by the defendant. There are five essential parts of proving negligence in a personal injury lawsuit – known as “elements” of the case.
The first element is “duty.” The plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff. In car accident cases, that duty is the duty to operate a vehicle properly, obeying all traffic laws. All drivers on the road owe this duty to other drivers inherently. The second element is “breach.” Once the first element of duty is established, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant breached that duty. In a car accident, that breach could come in many forms, such as distracted driving or violating traffic laws.
Next, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant’s breach of duty was the cause of the accident and the resultant injuries. This is oftentimes the trickiest part of a personal injury lawsuit, where evidence can be hard to obtain. And, even if this causation link is proven, the plaintiff must still get to the next element of the case, which is to show that the defendant should have been able to foresee that the negligent behavior alleged could cause the car accident.
Lastly, the plaintiff must prove that some damages resulted from the defendant’s conduct. In a personal injury case based on a car accident, this element will typically be proven by showing medical bills and proof of other ways that the injuries that the plaintiff suffered are impacting that person’s life.