When a person suffers an injury caused by the negligent, reckless, or careless actions of another party, that individual may wish to consider filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. However, to bring forth a successful personal injury case, a plaintiff must establish four distinct elements regarding the case.
The following are the four elements you need to prove to file a personal injury lawsuit:
- Duty of care – The existence of an individual or entity’s legal duty is the first element to satisfy. If your case involves a car accident, for example, this applies to the duty to drive with reasonable care as to avoid collisions with others on the road. If an injury involves a slip and fall accident, it generally applies to homeowners when on private property or business owners or government agencies when on public property.
- Breach of duty of care – The second element is demonstrating a failure to exercise reasonable care. A common example is an intoxicated motorist runs a red light and hits another car. An employee or manager at a grocery store failed to post a warning sign about wet floors, which caused a slip-and-fall accident.
- Causation – The third element is showing causation, meaning that the breach of exercising reasonable care caused the injury. Even if the act of negligence or recklessness wasn’t entirely to blame—and if the plaintiff was partially at fault—it must have at least contributed to the injury.
- Suffered damages – Lastly, the plaintiff must prove damages, or losses, in order to recover compensation for the injury they sustained. Plaintiffs are eligible for both economic (e.g. medical expenses and lost wages) and noneconomic damages (e.g. pain and suffering) damages.