A negligent person can be held responsible for any injuries or accidents that result from his or her lack of responsibility, caution or concern. In a car accident, the negligent person is the one who caused the crash for any number of reasons — he or she may not have been paying attention, may have been using a cell phone or handheld device, or might have been driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These cases have a clear party to blame and can lead to fairly straightforward personal injury lawsuits.
In order to prove that the guilty party was negligent and responsible for any injuries or damages incurred, the victim has to prove the following five elements:
In negligence-related personal injury cases, the defendant must have owed a duty of care to the victim. This duty stems from the obligations one person has to another, whether in acting carefully and responsibly, or in maintaining a safe, secure property.
For example, a driver has a duty to others on the road to act cautiously and drive safely according to the conditions of the road. If the driver struck another vehicle, the courts would need to determine whether the alleged at-fault driver owed a duty to the victim. Once this duty has been established, the case can proceed.
- Breach of Duty
After the duty between the two parties has been determined, the victim must demonstrate how the defendant breached that duty. Continuing with the example of the car accident, the alleged at-fault driver may have been speeding or driving unsafely for the weather conditions. He or she may have been intoxicated as well. If any of these behaviors or actions can be proven, the defendant may be found in violation of his duty to the other drivers.
- Cause in Fact
The usual rules for negligence cases state that the plaintiff has to prove his or her injuries and damages were a direct result of the defendant’s actions. Again, in the car accident scenario, let’s say the victim suffered a broken arm and extensive damage to his vehicle. If it were not for the alleged at-fault driver’s actions, the accident would not have happened and the victim would not have been injured.
- Proximate Cause
Proximate cause means that a defendant in a negligence case is responsible for the damages that he could have foreseen as a result of his actions. The driver of the car could have predicted that his speeding could have caused a collision and that the people in the other vehicle could have been hurt by the impact. However, if the injured party takes their car to the shop and gets into another accident on the way, that accident could not have been foreseen by the defendant, and he cannot be held liable for those injuries.
The victim of a negligence-related accident has to prove that he or she suffered harm, whether in the form of physical injury or property damage. The defendant’s failure to use reasonable care must result in some sort of injury or damage to the victim in order to prove negligence.
At Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, we can help you file your lawsuit if you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence. For a free, no-strings consultation, contact a New Jersey personal injury lawyer at HCK today.