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Negligence and How it is Determined in a Personal Injury Claim

Posted on 10/15/22

It is absolutely crucial to determine negligence before any personal injury claim can be successful. Whether we were talking about an insurance settlement or a personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault party, there are various elements of negligence that must be proven. Here, we want to examine the types of evidence needed as well as briefly explain the elements of negligence.

What is Negligence?

Everybody has heard the word negligence, but it is important to understand that this has a specific meaning when it comes to personal injury claims in Pennsylvania. In order for an injury victim to prevail in a personal injury claim, they must establish the four elements of negligence, which is no easy feat. These four elements include:

  1. Duty. This revolves around establishing that the plaintiff (the injury victim) was owed a duty of care by the defendant (the person who allegedly caused the injury). The duty of care will not look the same for every type of case. For example, the duty of care surrounding defective product claims will look different than the duty of care surrounding vehicle accident claims. Companies and manufacturers have a duty to ensure the safety of their products, while drivers have a duty to ensure that they operate their vehicles safely on the roadway.
  2. Breach. After successfully establishing that the defendant did owe the plaintiff a duty of care, it will need to be shown that this duty was breached in some way. A breach of duty will look different depending on the particular situation but always revolves around the defendant not performing their duty to ensure safety. Drivers can breach their duty of care in a number of ways, including by operating impaired or distracted or by speeding. Companies or manufacturers can breach their duty of care by failing to provide a safe product or failing to adequately advertise the product on the label.
  3. Causation. After establishing that there was a breach of duty by the defendant, it will have to be shown that this breach is what caused the injuries to the plaintiff.
  4. Damages. Lastly, it has to be shown that the plaintiff sustained some sort of monetary loss caused by their injuries. This can include medical bills, lost wages, property damage expenses, and more. 

How to Prove Negligence

Proving negligence can be challenging and will revolve around gathering as much evidence as possible. The evidence needed to prove the four elements of negligence will vary depending on the situation. For example, the evidence needed to prove that a defective product caused an injury will certainly look different than the evidence needed to prove that an impaired driver caused an injury.

Some of the main types of evidence that an attorney will use to prove liability can include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Photographs taken at the scene of the incident
  • Video surveillance footage from cameras inside or outside of a building
  • Statements taken from eyewitnesses
  • Statements from the plaintiff and defendant
  • Company or government entity maintenance and inspection records
  • Information related to a history of injuries caused by the defendant
  • Driving records
  • Mobile device data
  • Computer records
  • Vehicle black box data
  • Accident reconstructionist analysis

It is crucial to have an attorney who can use their resources to fully investigate every case and help prove liability.