When making a claim for personal injuries, the victim (known as the Plaintiff) has the “burden of proof.” This means proving another’s (the Defendant) unintentional conduct caused the injuries. In legal terms, the Plaintiff must prove Duty, Breach, & Damages.
- Duty – The person that caused your injury owed you a duty of care. When we drive, we owe a duty of care to other motorists that we will drive safely and obey traffic rules and laws. When we’re a property owner, we owe a duty of care to make sure our property is free of any dangerous conditions and/or to warn of any conditions.
- Breach – The person that owed you a duty of care breached their duty. A breach of duty is what is generally referred to as “negligence.” In other words, the Defendant breached their duty through some negligent conduct, such as a motorist hitting you because they blew a red light, failed to yield the right of way, drove too fast for conditions and or followed too closely.
- Damages – This means that the victim of the Defendants' negligent suffers actual injuries that result in “damages” (medical expenses, lost wages, pain & suffering, etc.)
In many injury claims, “negligence” is admitted by the Defendant’s insurance carrier, but sometimes they deny their insured was negligent or allege that others besides their insured were also negligent. In these instances, a good attorney will investigate an injury claim in an attempt to prove negligence on the part of a Defendant.
This might entail interviewing witnesses, calculating vehicle speeds and stopping distances, measuring skid marks, viewing video footage, etc. Every case is different, but this is why it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible, so that if necessary, an attorney can investigate before evidence is destroyed and/or memories fade.
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