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Determining if Your Injury Was Caused by Negligence

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Posted on August 4, 2023

No one pulls out of their driveway in the morning expecting to experience a car accident, but an average of 6-7 million car accidents occur each year in the United States. Car accidents remain a leading cause of injuries and death in the U.S. Other major causes of preventable, fault-based injuries include, slip-and-fall accidents, defective products, dog bites, and medical malpractice injuries. If you’ve been injured in an accident that was preventable if only someone else had taken reasonable care, you’ll find that the trauma and distress don’t always end with your physical recovery. When the medical bills begin piling up and you’re still unable to return to work while you’re recovering, you may feel helpless and uncertain—especially when it comes to the insurance claims process in at-fault states requiring the injury victim to first prove negligence on the part of the person or entity at fault in the accident. Often, it takes a skilled personal injury attorney to gather the right evidence to prove negligence by meeting specific legal points.

Understanding Duty of Care

The first step in clearly demonstrating negligence in a car accident, slip-and-fall injury, defective product injury, or any other preventable injury, is to prove to the liable party’s insurance company that the person or business owed a duty of care to others to take reasonable measures to prevent injuries. Examples include:

  • A driver’s duty of care to follow traffic laws, avoid distractions, and not drink and drive
  • A property owner or business owner’s duty of care to recognize and promptly address hazards on their property that could cause injury to others
  • A manufacturer’s duty to produce safe products that won’t harm others

Everyone has the duty to take reasonable care to prevent harm to others.

Breaching Duty of Care

After showing that the at-fault party in the injury claim owed a duty of care to others, the next step is proving that they breached that duty by acting negligently. Some examples include:

  • A driver who was texting or scrolling through social media while driving, which resulted in a car accident
  • A property owner who failed to keep a dog from biting someone lawfully on their property
  • A medical provider who fails to treat a patient at the industry-accepted standard of care

If a person or business breaches their duty of reasonable care, they’re negligent according to the standard of personal injury law.

Causation of Injury

Once the evidence clearly demonstrates that the at-fault party owed a duty of reasonable care to others and breached that duty, the next step in proving negligence is to provide evidence that the breach of duty directly caused the victim’s injury, such as:

  • A distracted driver collided with a stopped vehicle in front of them, directly causing a whiplash injury to the driver in the front vehicle
  • A store owner’s failure to fix a leaky pipe directly caused a customer to slip and fall due to a wet floor
  • A circular saw caused an injury to a person’s hand because the manufacturer failed to affix an adequate warning label to the product

The Injury Victim Suffered Significant Damages

After showing that the breach of duty directly caused an injury, the victim must prove that they’ve suffered significant damages from the injury including such damages as:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering

Attorneys must produce tangible evidence of economic damages like medical bills and employer statements as well as medical evidence proving that the victim’s injury is painful and has significant impacts on their quality of life.

By clearly demonstrating the above legal points of liability, a San Diego personal injury attorney can craft a compelling case for damages directly from the liability insurance of the party at fault or in a lawsuit in court.