What Do You Need to Prove in a Negligence Claim?
Occasionally, injuries that we suffer are caused by the negligence of other people. To bring a claim for negligence, a plaintiff needs to prove three elements.
First, they must show that the defendant owed them a duty of care. This may sound complicated, but it’s actually a rather simple standard. We all owe each other the duty to not cause harm. For instance, if I am in the park through a ball for my dog, I owe a duty of care not to hit someone with the ball. When you are driving down the road, you owe a duty to other motorists to not collide with their vehicles. Often the duty of care is to avoid doing something, but sometimes someone owes a duty to perform an action, such as shoveling his or her sidewalk.
Once you establish that the defendant owed you a duty of care, you must show that they breached this duty. To return to the earlier examples, this can be quite simple. If I hit someone with a ball in the park and cause him or her injury, it is clear that I breached my duty to avoid hitting a person. If you crash into someone with your car, you have breached your duty. However, there may be mitigating evidence that would suggest that the breach was in fact not the defendant’s fault. For instance, if a car pulled out in front of you and you collided into them, you could likely introduce evidence to negate your responsibility. Proving breach turns on an examination of the individual facts of the case.
Finally, a plaintiff must show that he or she was injured as a result of the breach. This is often a sticking point with litigants who fail to recognize that breach on its own is not enough to bring about liability. Just because someone failed to shovel their walk does not mean they are liable. This failure must cause an injury.
To learn more about seeking compensation after someone else’s negligence causes a personal injury to you or a loved one, consult an experienced North Carolina lawyer with Lanier Law Group, P.A.