If you suffered injuries in an accident that was caused by another person, you may have heard the term “negligence.”.
We receive questions every day about the components of negligence, including:
- What does negligence mean?
- What are the elements of negligence? and
- What kind of behavior is negligent behavior?
If you do not know the meaning of negligence, you are not alone. Negligence is a legal term that generally means someone failed to act with the level of care that a reasonable person would have shown in the same or similar situation. The basic elements of a negligence claim include: (1) duty, (2) breach, (3) causation, and (4) damages. The elements of a negligence claim are discussed in more detail below.
If you suffered injuries in an accident, you should contact an attorney right away. Our team of Colorado personal injury attorneys at McCormick & Murphy, P.C. has over 50 years of combined legal experience representing injured victims. We understand the challenges that our clients and their families face in the aftermath of an accident. Let us guide your case through the legal process while you focus on healing from your injuries.
First Element of a Negligence Claim: Duty
First, a plaintiff will need to show that the at-fault party owed you a legal duty. For example, motorists using public roads owe a duty of care to every other person using the road to act in a reasonably safe manner.
For example, a driver needs to keep a safe distance behind the car in front so that he or she has enough time to safely stop behind that car. Additionally, property owners owe a duty of care to individuals who visit their property to keep the premises free from dangerous conditions or provide adequate warnings. Although duty may seem like one of the easier elements of a negligence claim, you need to show all four elements to prevail.
Second Element of Negligence Claim: Breach
The first and second elements of negligence typically go hand in hand. After you determine that the at-fault party owed you a legal duty, you must prove that they breached that duty. Someone breaches their legal duty when they fail to act as a reasonable person would have acted in the same or similar circumstances.
For example, if a motorist operates their vehicle under the influence of alcohol and causes a a collision as a result, they breach their legal duty to other motorists on the road. Many traffic law violations can constitute a breach of a motorist’s duty of care. If a traffic violation was the result of the collision, this is known as “negligence per se”.
Third Element of Negligence Claim: Causation
In personal injury cases, the person liable for your damages is the one who caused the personal injury accident. This is referred to as causation. To establish this element, you need to show that the at-fault party’s negligence was the cause of the accident that resulted in your injuries. In other words, you need to show a connection between the at-fault party’s breach of their legal duty and the injuries you suffered in the accident.
Many at-fault parties try to attack this element of your negligence analysis by that your injuries were not caused by the collision.
An attorney can help you gather evidence to prove that the other driver’s negligence caused your accident and resulting injuries.
Fourth Element of Negligence Claim: Damages
Finally, you cannot recover under the theory of negligence if you do not incur any damages in the accident. Damages can arise in many forms, from medical bills and lost wages to compensation for your pain and suffering.
Other forms of damages you may incur as a result of your accident include:
- Loss of future earning capacity,
- Costs of repairs,
- Loss of enjoyment of life,
- Mental anguish,
- Loss of consortium, and
- Permanent physical impairment.
How Can an Attorney Help Prove the 4 Elements of Negligence?
With decades of experience representing injured victims, our attorneys know the ins and outs of proving a negligence claim. We will collect whatever information is necessary to help ensure that you demonstrate the existence of all four elements.
We look forward to helping you.