What are the Four Factors of Proving Liability?

If you were injured in an incident that was caused by another person’s careless or negligent actions, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to recover the compensation you are entitled to. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to get the compensation you are entitled to, and you may need assistance from a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney.

One of the hardest aspects of winning a personal injury case is proving that the other party is liable for the incident that caused you harm. While that may seem straightforward, it rarely is. Four factors must be proven before you can recover compensation for your personal injury claim.

1.    The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care

The plaintiff in the case (the person who was injured) must show that the defendant (the person who caused the incident) owed a duty of care. This can be established in several ways, but no two cases are the same.

For example, if you are injured in a car accident that was caused by a driver who failed to yield the right-of-way, the other driver had a duty to care for the safety of others around them. As a licensed driver, a person must follow all traffic laws, or they breach their duty of care.

Property owners owe a duty of care to guests. This includes keeping floors free and clear of hazards. If a property owner or their employee mop a floor, they have a responsibility to put up a “wet floor” sign to warn others of the danger.

2.    The duty of care was breached by a negligent act

When a duty of care has been established, you must show that the negligent party breached their duty. In the examples above, the driver who failed to yield the right-of-way breached their duty by not following appropriate traffic laws. If a store owner or employee fails to put up a “wet floor” sign after mopping, they have failed their duty to their guests.

3.    The breach resulted in an accident

It must be shown that the breach of duty on the part of the defendant caused an accident in the first place. This can be accomplished by gathering evidence related to the incident, including phone records, photo and video surveillance, accident reports, and more. For example, if a car accident was caused by a driver who was texting, phone records will need to be gathered to establish that fact.

4.    The accident resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries

It must be proven that the accident caused by the breach of duty was the actual cause of the plaintiff’s injury. Often, the defendant will claim that the plaintiff’s injury was the result of a pre-existing or separate incident. This is why it is vital that a person injured due to someone else’s negligence seek medical care as soon as possible.

Injuries can lead to tremendous expenses

Proving the four elements of liability is important. A personal injury can lead to tremendous medical bills for a victim. If the person who was injured cannot work while they recover from their injuries, they risk losing the income they need to support themselves and their household. By proving liability, you can move closer to securing the compensation you are entitled to.