Personal Injury Law: Factors to Prove in a Negligence Claim
At Leonard Law Group, our Chicago injury lawyers are dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals and workers who have suffered injuries that place tremendous strains on their lives. Because we handle both workers’ compensation and personal injury cases, we have the depth of experience to fight for clients when their injuries are caused by the negligence of others – including injuries that result from non-workplace accidents and workplace injuries involving third party negligence.
Personal injury cases are distinctly different from workers compensation cases, which involve a form of no-fault insurance that provides benefits to workers regardless of who was at fault for causing an injury. Personal injury cases, on the other hand, involving injuries and damages that result from the negligence of another. Personal injury cases allow victims to recover a broader range of damages than they would in standard workers’ compensation cases, including pain and suffering. However, victims who pursue these claims must prove several essential legal elements in order to prevail and hold the at-fault party liable.
Below, we discuss a few of the elements that must be demonstrated in a successful negligence claim:
- Legal Duty – In order for any personal injury or third party negligence claim to have merit, there must have been some type of legal duty that existed between the plaintiff (victim) and the defendant (party alleged to have caused harm). This legal duty can exist in numerous ways. For example, all motorists have legal obligations to drive their vehicles safely, and all doctors have a duty of care to treat patients in accordance to acceptable medical standards. On worksites, this duty may take the form of contractors who must abide by safety regulations so as not to create unreasonable risks to those around them. Establishing a legal duty is vital to negligence claims, and helps set the stage for how victims will prove the defendant failed to uphold that duty.
- Breach of Duty – Defining a defendant’s legal duty is only part of the process; victims must show how the defendant breached (or failed to uphold) that duty. While a breach of duty can occur in various ways, including intentional acts of wrongdoing or malice, it most typically arises from negligence, which means a defendant’s negligent, careless, or willful acts were a direct breach of their obligation to, for example, safely operate their vehicle, treat a patient with acceptable care, or perform work in compliance to safety regulations.
- Causation – Victims must next prove that the defendant’s breach of duty caused their injuries. In personal injury cases (which are civil matters), the burden of proof for doing so is known as a preponderance of the evidence, or simply “more likely than not.” For example, a car accident victim may work to show how the defendant driver’s intoxication made them more dangerous behind the wheel and impaired their driving abilities in a way that made them more likely than not to have caused the accident. Proving causation is a case-by-case matter, and it demands support from evidence and clear arguments.
- Damages – One of the last critical elements to establish in a negligence claim is damages. Victims must have suffered some type of loss in order to have a valid claim and recover financial compensation from the defendant. Typically, this is satisfied when they suffer real injuries, which in turn can result in medical bills, pain and suffering, lost income, and emotional injuries, among other damages. Our work as personal injury lawyers is to help our clients demonstrate the full impact an accident and injury had on their lives, and fight for the full compensation they deserve.
If you have questions about your rights following a preventable accident or a workplace injury you believe resulted from the negligence of a third party, do not hesitate to reach out for the proven legal representation you deserve. Our team at Leonard Law Group has helped thousands of clients throughout Chicago and the surrounding areas of Illinois, and we’re ready to help you. Contact us for a free consultation.