Accidents happen. We hear it all the time, and usually chalk it up to bad luck or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But sometimes an accident and a resulting injury are somebody’s fault. And if someone else is at fault for your injuries, shouldn’t they have to pay if you have doctors’ bills, missed income, or even worse? There’s a large and often complicated area of law that covers accidents, the injuries they cause, and determining who, if anyone, is at fault.
Whether it’s a fender bender in an intersection or a slip and fall on an icy sidewalk, if someone is hurt in an accident, someone else is usually at fault. And depending on the sequence of events, it is easier to determine that fault for some accidents than for others. Over time, courts and legislatures have created tests for deciding legal liability, and how far and to whom it may extend.
A lawsuit attempting to prove liability for an accident is known as a negligence claim, filed by the injured party, the plaintiff, against the party thought to be at fault, the defendant. In order for a negligence claim to be successful, the plaintiff must prove each of five elements:
- Duty: the defendant owed to a duty of care;
- Breach of Duty: the defendant failed to meet that duty of care;
- Cause in Fact: but for the defendant’s failure, the plaintiff would not have been injured;
- Proximate Cause: the defendant’s failure (and not something else) caused the plaintiff’s injury; and
- Damages: the plaintiff has actually been injured and suffered some loss.
The law surrounding these elements can be complicated and the facts may be difficult to prov. Therefore, the success or failure of a negligence claim will depend on the specific circumstances of the case. A great team of injury accident lawyers will surely be able to help resolve any legal case of issues you have.