If you find yourself in the process of preparing for a personal injury lawsuit, one fundamental question you may be asking is, “How do I determine if someone was at-fault for my injury?” This is a vital part of the process. The trial will primarily revolve around proving that the defendant was at-fault, or to put it another way, proving that the defendant acted negligently. Legal negligence is a complicated thing, with four components which must each be independently proven. You should rely on an attorney to prove your case, rather than trying to represent yourself. Regardless, this guide will explain legal negligence.
The first component of negligence is called duty. This refers to a citizen’s duty to act a certain way. Essentially this means that someone was either expected to take a certain action or not take a certain action. For example, it is the duty of all citizens to report crimes they witness. The legal requirement for a certain behavior to be considered a duty is often whether a reasonable person would expect it. The first step in proving negligence is establishing what duty the defendant had.
Once the defendant’s duty has been established, it must be proven that he or she failed to meet that duty. This is called a breach or a violation of duty. Keep in mind that just because an action or inaction may have resulted in injury, it does not necessarily mean that the person was obligated to not behave in that way. For example, citizens do not have a duty to assist someone being robbed. Even if the robber causes an injury, bystanders were not acting negligently by failing to help, even if they had the means to do so.
Causation and Damage
The final two components of negligence are linked. They are causation and damage. It must be proven that the breach of duty was the cause of damage. This means establishing what the injury was and proving that the breach of duty was the direct cause of it. It is always possible that the injury would have happened regardless of whether the duty was breached or not. If this is the case, then the defendant was not negligent despite failing to meet his or her duty.
Any personal injury attorney will be familiar with proving these aspects of negligence. For the average person, however, proving negligence can be an incredible challenge. This is why you should hire an attorney to represent you.