An Overview of Negligence


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Negligence forms the basis for the majority of personal injury cases. Generally, a person acts negligently whenever he or she behaves in a manner which deviates from how a “reasonably prudent person” would act in the same situation.

Society has developed a standard of care that individuals owe to one another. Essentially, our society established that, objectively, individuals should act in a manner whereby their actions avoid foreseeably causing harm to others or to property. A deviation from that standard of care is what forms the basis for negligence.

Elements of a Negligence Case

In order for a negligence claim to succeed, the individual filing the suit must provide evidence that all of the elements are met. The elements are:

Duty: A discussed earlier, we all, in most situations, owe one another a duty of care to act in a reasonable and a responsible manner. Still, it is essential to establish that a legal duty existed. If the defendant had no legal duty at the time of the injury-inducing incident, he or she cannot have acted negligently.

Breach of Duty: Once a duty of care is established, the claim must demonstrate that said duty was breached. Reaching a determination as to whether or not a breach of duty occurred will rely on either a subjective or objective test. The subjective test will determine whether the defendant knowingly breached his or her duty. The objective test applies the reasonable person standard. Which test is used shall depend on the type of negligence case filed.

Causation: A negligence can only succeed if the plaintiff is able to demonstrate that the breach of duty caused his or her injuries. This is a two-pronged analysis. First, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the breach was the actual cause of any injury. Thereafter, he or she must demonstrate that the breach was also the proximate cause of his or her injuries. This means that the injuries caused by the breach must have been reasonably foreseeable.

Injury: In order to receive compensation for his or her injuries, a plaintiff must demonstrate that he or she has suffered an injury or a loss. This loss can be economic, physical, or both. Most often, if a loss doesn’t exist, the plaintiff cannot win his or her negligence claim.

Awarding Damages

A plaintiff who is able to prove all of the elements of a negligence claim may be entitled to damages. Damages are compensatory in nature, and they are designed to put the plaintiff in the position in which he or she was in prior to the injury. Several types of damages exist, and the types of damages available for recovery will depend on the type of negligence case.

It is important for plaintiffs to keep careful and detailed records of their losses and expenses. The valuation of the plaintiff’s injury must be proven by evidence. A skilled attorney will be able to help maximize an injured party’s claim; recovering maximum compensation is always the objective.

Contact a Richmond Personal Injury Attorney Today

You may be entitled to recover damages if you have been injured as a result of another person’s negligence. Negligence cases have very specific requirements that must be met in order to receive compensatory damages. Proving the elements of the case can be difficult without the help of a skilled personal injury attorney. At Emroch & Kilduff, we are committed to providing our clients with the best possible representation. Let us discuss your case with you today. Schedule your consultation by calling (804) 358-1568.