Defining Negligence in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

If you were injured by someone else’s actions, you probably want to pursue compensation for your injuries. However, if you want to file a personal injury lawsuit, it is important to understand how fault and negligence work legally. You will only be able to successfully sue someone if they acted in a way that the law defines as negligent. This may sound simple, but the legal definition of negligence is more complicated than you might think. This is why it is important to have an attorney, like a truck accident lawyer in Central Phoenix, AZ from Kamper Estrada, LLP, who is experienced legally proving negligence.

The Definition

Negligence has four components which must each independently be true. Each of these components builds upon the previous one, making them all essential to win your case. The four components are:

  • Duty
  • Breech
  • Causation
  • Damage

Let’s examine each component in order.

Duty

First, it must be established that the person who caused your injury had a certain duty. This is essentially just an obligation to act a certain way. Every citizen has certain duties, such as a duty not to drive drunk, a duty to follow the law, and a duty not to harm others. A duty can often be defined as what behavior an average person would reasonably expect.

Breach

Second, it must be shown that the person you are suing breached their duty in some way. They must have violated the duty that has previously been established in order for their actions to be considered negligent. If they did everything they could reasonably be expected to, they did not act negligently, even if their actions did cause your injury.

Causation 

Third, it must be proven that their breach of duty is what directly caused the injury. Someone violating their duty does not necessarily mean the action was negligent. It is possible that the injury would have happened regardless of the person’s actions, and they just happened to breach their duty at the same time.

Damage

Finally, the damage caused by the breach of duty must be significant. If the damage is minor, then it is not appropriate to file a personal injury lawsuit. Remember, damage includes more than just physical injury. It can include emotional distress, missed paychecks, medical bills, loss of earning ability, disfigurement, and more.

The requirements for establishing negligence are more extensive than most people realize. Additionally, it takes a lot to legally prove that an action was negligent. This is why it is so important to have a capable attorney representing you.