411: Components of a Successful Personal Injury Case

Jul. 9th, 2013   /   , , , , , , , ,

The questionnaire

 

In this blog, we’re going to identify and explain some vital components of a successful personal injury case.

Let’s start with the obvious: a law firm that has experience handling personal injury cases. In order to orchestrate a successful personal injury legal cause, an attorney must be well versed in the world of personal injury law. Legal competence, then, is essential but not satisfactory on its own. Handling a personal injury case effectively (whether its one stemming from an auto accident, a slip & fall, medical malpractice, etc.) requires deep knowledge of how the various components of the case operate and interact and such experience can only be gleaned from years of experience handling many personal injury cases and recognizing what works.

This next section is filled with legal information that you might not be aware of, knowledge of which can better assist you in providing relevant and helpful information to your attorney. When we talk about personal injury law, what we’re really discussing, in terms of law, is tort law. A tort is a wrongdoing – an intentional or unintentional act of negligence by one individual or party that causes damage and/or loss to someone else. Proving a tort case requires the successful demonstration of four components that we will further explain:

  1. duty of care
  2. breach of such duty
  3. causation, and
  4. damages

 

First up: duty of care. This first element of proving negligence requires that the plaintiff – the victim and their attorney – must demonstrate that the defendant in the case had a duty to act in a specific manner. Individuals have a legal obligation to adhere to a certain standard of care when engaging in an activity that has the potential to cause harm to others. For example, if you are driving down the street, you have a duty to drive in a safe manner, given that a lack of safe driving has the potential to cause harm to other drivers and/or pedestrians. Similarly, if you own a grocery store, you have a duty to maintain a safe walking space (free from puddles) because a lack of maintaining safe walking spaces has the potential to cause customers to slip and fall, which might cause them great injury.

Next: breach of said duty. The second element is one that requires the plaintiff to demonstrate that the defendant in the case, the purportedly negligent actor, breached their duty of care. Breach of care is not necessarily cut-and-dry; it can be proven in a variety of ways. For example, someone who knowingly engages in an activity that poses a risk of substantial damage to someone else has engaged in a breach of duty of care. Additionally, someone who fails to recognize the inherent danger to others associated with their actions, is guilty of a breach of duty of care if it is determined that any other reasonable person would be aware of the inherent danger. Furthermore, if someone engages in an activity that poses an unreasonable risk of damage to another, and damage to another is caused, such a person has breached a duty of care.

The third element is causation. In order for the defendant to be held responsible for damages suffered by another, it must be proven that the loss or damage to the victim was the direct result of action or omission by the defendant. A simple legal test in establishing the connection between the defendant’s action and the victim’s loss is to ask whether the damage experienced by the defendant would have occurred were it not for the action or omission by the defendant. If the damage would have occurred regardless, it is difficult (if not impossible) to hold the defendant liable for those damages. On the other hand, if it is proven that the defendant’s actions were the proximate cause of the damages, and that the damages would not have occurred were it not for the actions of the defendant, the defendant can be held liable for the damages.

Finally: the word we’ve been using over and over – damages. Someone can’t sue somebody unless they’ve suffered a loss. Without having experienced damages, there is no standing to sue. You can’t sue somebody for doing something wrong or even for breaking the law – that’s the job of the government. You can sue somebody – and successfully, too – if you can prove that you suffered actual damages as a result of the above-described sequence of negligence. If the defendant had a duty of care, they breached that duty of care, and your loss is the direct result of their negligence, you can successfully sue them for damages. Damages can be financial, physical, emotional etc. Proving these damages will be the work of your skilled attorney.

Finally, let’s loop back to where we started: a skilled law firm. You may see advertisements from what we deem “law factories,” giant law firms with many, many attorneys who spend a great deal of time and energy on advertising. We feel that clients are best served, especially in the world of personal injury law, with a smaller and experienced personal injury law firm such as ours. At our law firm, we are small enough to give personal attention to all of our clients while remaining sizeable enough to handle personal injury cases on a small and large scale.

For more information, please reach out to us by calling 561-266-9191 or emailing us at daronberg@aronberglaw.com.

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