Personal injury claims are some of the most common kinds of lawsuit, since there are many situations where someone is injured due to the negligence of another. Though personal injury claims are common and easy to file, winning a case is more challenging than people may realize. Even with a high-quality personal injury attorney, to be successful in a personal injury claim, it’s vital to establish the cause of action that led to the injury. Understanding these elements makes it easier to know if a claim has enough merit to swing a judge and jury. Here are four key elements to proving cause of action in personal injury claims.
In legal situations, the cause of action refers to a set of facts that establish why one party is suing another. There are many potential causes of action, such as battery, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and more. Lawsuits often contain multiple causes of action. That way, if one cause is rejected, another may still succeed. Whatever cause of action you pursue, four key elements need to be proven.
To establish why a claim is targeting a specific individual or organization, the plaintiff needs to show duty. Duty refers to an expectation for an individual or organization to perform a particular action. Schools have an obligation to provide an education children, and doctors have a duty to provide the best possible care to their patients. Some of these duties are firmly established by law, wherein other cases, responsibility can be assumed. In Florida personal injury cases, plaintiffs only need to prove that the incident caused by the defendant’s actions was foreseeable. To think of it another way, everyone has a duty to ensure they aren’t doing something that will harm someone else.
The next element that needs to be proven is breach of duty. Breach of duty is a situation where someone failed to perform the actions that were required by law. For example, if someone is hurt in the workplace due to unsafe conditions, the owner has breached their duty to maintain a safe workplace. Establishing a breach of duty can be tricky. You need to prove what the standard of care is, and how the actions of the defendant didn’t meet the reasonable expectation of upholding their duty.
Just because someone has breached their duty to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are at fault for an injury or accident. Proximate cause is sometimes referred to as the “legal cause” because it establishes who is legally at fault for a situation. Here’s an example, if someone is injured while riding on a bus that’s involved an accident, the bus crash is the “actual cause” of the injury. However, if the cause of the crash was out of the bus driver’s control, then the bus driver isn’t the proximate cause. Whatever caused the bus driver to crash is the “legal cause,” since that action began the chain of events that led to the bus accident and the person’s injury.
The last key element in cause of action is determining the damage caused by the event. Damage is defined as a loss or harm to a person’s health, property, or reputation that was caused by an incident. Proving damage is crucial because it determines how much compensation (i.e., damages) you will be entitled to receive. It’s best to have documentation, such as bills and receipts related to the incident, which makes it easier to show how the victim was harmed.
No matter how sure you are about the merits of your claim, you shouldn’t try to represent yourself in a personal injury suit. The insurance companies will have the best legal counsel, and you should too. The Law Firm of Steve Watrel, P.A. has decades of experience successfully litigating personal injury claims on the First Coast. If you have a question about a potential personal injury claim, call us at (800) 792-8735 or send us a message online to schedule an appointment to discuss your case.