Many people think they know what it means to be negligent, but in legal terms there are certain elements that must be met in order to prevail on a personal injury claim. Every reckless act does not automatically rise to the level of negligence. At The Levine Law Firm, our Austin personal injury lawyer can let you know whether your injuries were the result of negligence and whether you have a strong claim for compensation.
The Legal Elements Of A Negligence Claim
In the list below, we’ve provided a brief overview of the legal elements of negligence. Remember that the following information is not a substitute for legal advice from a qualified attorney. Everyone’s situation is different, and you should consult with a lawyer to determine whether you have a strong personal injury claim.
Duty: Before anything else is proven, it must be shown that the negligent party had a legal duty to act in some way toward the injured victim. If we use a car accident as an example, people on the roadways have a duty toward their fellow drivers. In other words, traffic signals, stoplights, speed limits, etc., should all be obeyed.
Breach: Once it has been established that drivers owe a duty to their fellow drivers, it must be shown that there was a breach of this duty. Continuing with the car accident hypothetical, if a driver is at a stoplight-controlled intersection and the light turns green, and that driver is hit by another driver after pulling into the intersection after being given a green light, the driver who went through the red light breached his or her duty to the other driver.
Causation: Once the first two elements have been shown, it must be proven that the accident was the cause of the harm or the injuries that the victim suffered. If a driver had broken his or her arm the day before the accident, you cannot show that the broken arm resulted from the car accident.
Proximate cause: This element refers to the scope of a defendant’s liability. The further an injury is removed from the accident in question, the less likely it is that the defendant will be liable. For example, if the injured victim’s car is damaged but still in working condition, and if the injured victim is hurt in a more serious accident one week later while driving his or her car to the repair shop, it is unlikely that the defendant in the original accident would be the proximate cause of the later accident, even though the victim would not have been going to the repair shop if his or her car had not been damaged by the defendant.
Damages: A victim must prove that a legally recognized harm occurred as a result of the accident. That is, there must have been some sort of physical (or in some cases emotional) injury or some kind of damage to property. A car accident that leaves a smear of dirt on another car and which can easily be wiped away does not rise to the level of damages necessary to bring a negligence claim.
Contact Our Travis County Lawyer For Negligence Claims
The above are the basic elements of negligence. Every accident case is unique, and Texas attorney Jeremy Levine can let you know how the facts of your case may help or hurt your negligence claim. To schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced accident attorney, call 512-476-9800 or contact our firm online. We take car accident claims on contingency, so you will not pay attorney fees unless your case is resolved successfully.