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How Do You Prove Negligence in a Personal Injury Claim?

February 18, 2019 Published in Personal Injury

If you or loved one were involved in an accident that resulted in injury by no fault of your own, chances are you incurred medical expenses as a result. Likely, you would like the at-fault party to compensate you for the medical expenses, as well as any lost income due to lost work or potential pain and suffering endured on your part. The first step in that process is proving that the negligence of the at fault party caused your injury.

What Is Negligence?

By legal definition, negligence is the failure by an individual or company to use reasonable care, resulting in the injury of another person. If the failure of another person or company to take adequate care not to injure others caused you to suffer an injury, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. To prove negligence, the plaintiff’s attorney must first prove that the individual owed the plaintiff reasonable care.

What Is Reasonable Care?

For basic negligence purposes, everyone must take reasonable care to prevent the injury of others. For example, imagine a situation in which spectators are watching a tennis game. If a spectator is struck with a tennis ball during the normal proceedings of a game, causing injury, the players and officials have still taken reasonable care to play the game as expected and prevent injuries. However, if a player throws a racket into the stands in frustration and injures a spectator, the player has failed to take reasonable care to prevent injuries.

Courts can also interpret reasonable care as a duty of care as it pertains to certain situations. For example, a person walking down a sidewalk has no reasonable expectation for a falling street sign to injure him or her, and the city maintaining the sign has a duty of care to keep its occupants safe. However, a person ignoring posted safety regulations and entering into a construction zone has no expectation of reasonable care.

How Does an Attorney Apply Reasonable Care in Negligence Cases?

The court will weigh the degree to which you should have expected reasonable care from the defendant. If it determines the defendant owed you a duty of care or simple reasonable care, the defendant’s level of care as compared to your own will often determine the case’s outcome. In cases where you were not careless at all, but the defendant’s carelessness caused your injury, negligence is proven.

Other situations that involve your own carelessness, however, may result in reduced compensation. For example, if the court finds you to be somewhat careless in the incident, but the other individual was more careless, you may still be entitled to some compensation. Usually, the percentage of fault assigned to each party determines this. If your carelessness was the primary reason for the accident, however, you may not receive compensation, because you were comparatively negligent. In the state of Illinois, if the court determines you to be over 50% responsible for the accident, you are not entitled to compensation.

How Do You Receive Damages?

Once your attorney proves that the defendant owed you reasonable care or a duty of care, and that the defendant was at least more careless than you, you must still establish that your injury was the result of negligence on the part of the defendant.

  • Was negligence on the part of defendant the direct cause of your injury, and would you not have been injured otherwise?
  • Was the defendant the proximate cause of this injury or the only cause of your injury?
  • Was the loss you incurred a direct result of this injury?

If your attorney can prove all of the above, the courts are likely to award you compensation for medical bills and missed work as a result of your injury. In addition, depending on the extent of your injuries, you may also be entitled to damages for pain and suffering resulting from your injuries. A Springfield personal injury attorney from Kansoki Bresney can evaluate your claim and help you to seek compensation for your injuries.