Legal Guide

Home > Legal Guide

Do You Have a Personal Injury Case Based on Negligence?

Have you or someone you love been in an accident? You know that accidents happen. People get injured every day. Some injuries are minor, while others are life-threatening. In any case, if someone's negligence caused the accident, it is only fair that person helps pay for the resulting medical bills as well as reasonable pain and suffering.

How do you know if you have a personal injury case based on negligence?

Proving negligence involves proving four things: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. If the injured person cannot prove one of those four things, the entire case falls apart. Let's look at each one and see what each one entails.

To understand each stage of a personal injury case based on negligence, let's use a common example.

It is a winter morning, just after a major snow and ice storm. The front walkway of a store is a sheet of ice. The employees and managers have trouble getting to the door before opening due to the slippery conditions. Despite this problem, no one thinks to clear off the sidewalk and put down sand or salt to prevent customers slipping.

The store opens its doors on time at 9:00 AM. The first customer of the day approaches the door and ends up falling down due to the icy conditions. The customer breaks a hip. The manager calls an ambulance and the injured customer goes to the hospital. The customer ends up with medical bills and lost days at work.

Does this customer have a personal injury case against the store due to negligence? Let's look at the four elements and see:

  • Duty of care - Does the store have a duty to remove a hazard for its customers? The answer, in this case, is yes. The hazard was foreseeable. The store's employees would know of the hazard before the store opening. In addition, it is reasonable for customers to expect the store to take steps to prevent the slippery conditions outside their doors.
  • Breach of care - Did the store breach its duty of care? The store employees knew of the hazard and failed to take steps to remove the icy hazard. They opened the store with knowledge of the potential hazard. So, they did breach their duty of care in this case.
  • Causation - The third part of a negligence case is proving that the hazardous conditions caused the injuries to the customer. The customer's hip was not broken before arriving at the store. Once the customer slipped on the ice and fell down, he broke his hip. The fall on the ice caused the broken hip.
  • Damages - Did the customer suffer damage due to the fall? The customer broke a hip which required medical attention. The customer lost a few days at work. The customer's medical bills and lost wages are items often covered by court decisions.

This is a very simple example. However, it gives you an example of the elements you would need to prove a case of negligence.

If you think you or a loved one may have injuries due to negligence, you need to speak with a personal injury attorney. He or she can assess your case and give you an honest idea if you have an actionable court case.

Jane Simpkins is a freelance writer and mother of two young boys. She would like to note that while she's offering sound advice, nothing replaces the guidance from a real attorney.

comments powered by Disqus