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Proving the elements of a personal injury claim

On Behalf of | Feb 24, 2024 | Personal Injury

There are numerous circumstances through which damages might occur because of another person’s negligence or reckless behavior. Some examples of this include a Georgia motor vehicle collision caused by a drunk driver, a defective or insufficiently labeled product, or injuries suffered due to unmarked hazards on another person’s property. When situations like these occur, you may have grounds for filing a personal injury claim in civil court.

As the plaintiff in a personal injury claim, you must prove that certain elements existed when the incident occurred that resulted in your injuries. If you cannot do so, the judge overseeing the case may rule in the defendant’s favor. It’s important to understand these elements and to gather as much evidence as possible to build a strong case.

You must establish duty of care in a personal injury claim

To prove a personal injury claim, you must demonstrate that the defendant listed in your claim owed you a duty of care prior to the incident occurring that resulted in your injuries. For example, if you’re driving or riding as a passenger when a collision occurs, the driver of the other vehicle has a duty of care. All drivers must adhere to traffic laws and exert caution to maintain road safety.

A property owner has a duty of care, as well. If you own property, you must make sure it is safe for visitors or invited guests. Even if there are hazards on the property, you can fulfill your duty by making visitors aware of them. An example of this would be taping off an area where there are broken porch steps and erecting a “Caution” sign. If you fail to fulfill a duty of care, it constitutes negligence.

Breach of duty, or negligence, is a necessary element in an injury claim

After establishing that the defendant you’ve named in a personal injury claim owed a duty of care, you must then present evidence to show that he or she (or they) failed to fulfill the duty, thus resulting in negligence. If you cannot prove that the defendant failed to carry out a duty of care, it is unlikely that you will be able to obtain financial recovery for damages. Using the property hazard example, if the property owner took necessary precautions to warn you of a broken step and you chose to use the stairs anyway, you may not be able to prove that a breach of duty existed.

Did negligence cause the incident that resulted in your injuries?

After demonstrating that the defendant owed a duty and failed to fulfill it, you must provide evidence to show that this negligence was a direct cause of the incident that resulted in your injuries. The legal industry refers to this personal injury element as “causation.” You must be able to prove that the incident likely would not have occurred were it not for the defendant’s negligence.

What damage occurred due to negligence?

The final element that must exist to prove a personal injury claim in Georgia is compensable damage. This often includes physical injury, as well as emotional trauma or economic strain, such as medical bills that arise due to post-collision care. If these four elements exist — duty of care, breach of duty, causation and damages — you’ll increase your chances of winning a personal injury claim in court.