How to Prove Negligence Was the Cause of Your Injury
If you were injured in an accident in Virginia, you will need to prove negligence to recover compensation, in most cases. Negligence is an important legal doctrine you must understand before you begin an injury claim. It will be up to you to establish someone else’s negligence using clear and convincing evidence. Proving negligence is a difficult task that may require assistance from a Richmond injury attorney.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is the foundation for most injury claims in Virginia. The legal definition of negligence is someone failing to uphold his or her standards of care. Standards of care vary according to the relationship between the victim and the defendant. If one person breaches the standard of care and causes another person an injury, the negligent party (defendant) will be responsible for the victim’s (plaintiff’s) losses. It is up to the plaintiff to prove the defendant’s negligence, however, before the plaintiff can obtain compensation in Virginia.
What Are the Four Elements of Negligence?
Proving negligence means to provide enough evidence to build a viable claim against a defendant. In an injury claim, the evidentiary burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence; enough evidence to show the defendant more likely than not caused the injury in question. Proving negligence in an injury claim generally requires four main elements.
- Duty of care. In personal injury law, a duty of care describes how a person should act based on what a reasonable and prudent individual would do in the same or similar circumstances.
- Breach of duty. A breach of duty is the defendant’s negligent, careless, reckless or intentional failure to meet the standard of care. There is no one example of a breach of duty; it can refer to any action or omission a reasonable person would not have taken.
- Causation is the actual link between the defendant’s breach of duty and the victim’s accident and injury. Enough evidence must be present to establish that the victim’s losses would not have occurred but for the defendant’s wrongful act.
- The final element, damages, is the legal term for the real and compensable losses suffered by the plaintiff. A plaintiff will not be eligible for compensation without proof of real and specific damages, such as medical bills and lost wages.
With enough proof to establish these four elements as more likely to be true than not true, you will have a valid claim to damages against another person or entity in Virginia. You will successfully be able to prove the defendant acted negligently and that this was the actual cause of your injury. Before an insurance company or jury will side in your favor, however, you will need to present strong evidence to establish these four elements.
What Is Evidence in an Injury Claim?
It is not enough to say a defendant breached a duty of care and caused your injury. You cannot recover compensation without evidence that proves the negligent party’s fault. Evidence describes a body of information or facts that indicate the truth behind an allegation. Evidence during an injury claim can take many forms. It can be real, documentary, demonstrative or testimonial in nature.
- Police reports
- Accident reports
- Eyewitness accounts
- Photographs and videos
- Crash reconstruction
- Medical records
- Expert opinions
These are common examples of evidence that may be necessary to establish someone’s negligence during an injury claim. If you wish to obtain compensation for a car accident claim, for example, you could use a police report and photographs from the scene of the crash to establish the other driver’s fault. An attorney can help you collect key evidence to build any type of injury claim. Consult with a lawyer today for more information about the burden of proof in your case.