If you have been injured due to the reckless or negligent actions of another person, business, or entity, the burden of proof will fall on you. This can be overwhelming, especially in an injured state, to gather the correct evidence and make a case for your injury. This is why it is recommended to work with an experienced personal injury attorney. They can help you to gather evidence and prove fault in a personal injury lawsuit. Whether you have been injured in a car accident, a slip and fall case, due to medical malpractice, or another situation where there was a breach in duty of care, our law firm wants to hear from you.
So, How Can I Prove Fault in a Personal Injury Case?
Using Negligence to Prove Fault
The majority of injury claims arise because one or more parties acted negligently. Negligence is essentially conduct that 1) falls below the standard of care expected of a reasonable person, and 2) causes harm to another person. The legal elements of negligence that must be proven in order to hold a party liable for personal injury damages are:
Duty. A legal duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff must exist. For example, all automobile drivers owe a duty of care to other motorists on the road.
Breach. The plaintiff must prove the defendant breached a legal duty. Using the above example, a breach would occur if, while driving, a motorist looked down at their phone to compose a text message.
Causation. The defendant’s negligence must be the cause of the plaintiff’s harm or injuries. This element is usually pretty obvious in most injury cases. For example, if the defendant’s car rear-ends the plaintiff’s car in the above example, causation can’t really be in question.
Damages. The plaintiff must incur actual damages (usually monetary) as a result of the incident. This includes medical bills, lost income, “pain and suffering,” and property damage.
Learn more about proving negligence in a personal injury case.
Other Methods of Proving Fault
Not all injury claims involve traditional negligence. A plaintiff can still prove fault in a variety of ways, including by:
- establishing intentional conduct
- proving “negligence per se”, and or
- showing the case should be governed by the “strict liability” standard of proof.
Intentional conduct is something that’s done voluntarily, and with a desired purpose or with substantial certainty of the consequences. Personal injury cases arising from assault, battery, and similar conduct can give rise to an intentional tort case.
Negligence per se applies when there is an unexcused violation of a statute. In such a case, the defendant is automatically liable for damages if the plaintiff’s injury is of the type the statute was intended to prevent, and the plaintiff belongs to the class of people the statute was intended to protect. For example, if reckless driving—almost always a vehicle code violation—results in injury to a pedestrian, liability will likely be established using negligence per se.
“Strict liability” means the injured person doesn’t need to establish the defendant’s negligence in order to recover damages. The most common claims involving strict liability are product liability cases, but this fault concept can also apply to incidents involving possession of wild animals and to abnormally dangerous activities.
How to Prove Fault
The legal elements of negligence or strict liability are relatively straightforward, but proving your case can be a challenge. Attorneys and insurers will complete a thorough investigation of all details and circumstances of an injury claim in order to make an informed and legally sound liability decision. Such an investigation typically involves collecting evidence, interviewing involved parties and witnesses, and even hiring and consulting with experts. Common evidence used to prove fault in injury claims includes police reports, statements made by parties and witnesses, and documents/records kept by the parties.
Legal Defenses in Personal Injury Claims
When a plaintiff alleges negligence against a defendant or attempts to hold a defendant liable for damages, there are several defenses that can reduce the defendant’s liability or even eliminate it entirely. The most common defenses are:
Comparative fault. In many cases, more than one party is at fault or each opposing party shares some of the blame. The law accounts for these scenarios by permitting differing percentages of liability to be attributed to different parties (i.e., 75% fault to plaintiff and 25% to defendant). In most states, the law requires defendants to pay only a certain percentage— usually the percentage of fault attributed to them— of the plaintiff’s damages. But in a few states the plaintiff’s own fault will bar any recovery. (Learn more about comparative and contributory fault.)
Assumption of risk. Even if a defendant caused the plaintiff’s injuries, the plaintiff may be barred from recovery if the defendant successfully raises this defense. To prevail, the defendant must show the plaintiff had knowledge of and appreciated a risk of injury, but voluntarily confronted the risk anyway and was injured. A common example of assumption of risk arises during physical or inherently dangerous sporting events, such as football. Those participating typically can’t recover damages for injuries sustained in the normal course of the game.
Respondeat superior (employer liability). An employee who causes an injury might not be personally liable for damages if the injury occurred while the employee was working at the time. In these situations, the employer is usually liable for paying damages.
Experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Houston, Texas
Attorney Fuller is a seasoned attorney with nearly three decades of experience representing a wide range of clients. This includes individuals who have suffered an injury due to another’s actions, individuals facing criminal charges, those who have been arrested for DWI, individuals who have found themselves in a civil litigation dispute, and those looking for legal guidance in business.
After filling out a client intake form, Attorney Lanease D. Fuller will take appropriate action in your case to help you get the results you are looking for. This includes but not limited to gathering evidence, going to trial, and earning a settlement that is appropriate for your specific situation. Reach out to us today to take the first step towards settling your case.
LANEASE D. FULLER LAW
4615 S. Frwy St. 820
Houston, TX 77051
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