How to Prove Fault in a Personal Injury Case
If you or somebody you love has sustained an injury caused by the actions of another individual, entity, or company, you will likely be able to recover compensation for your losses. However, personal injury claims in New Jersey can become complicated, particularly when it comes to determining fault. Properly determining liability after an injury occurs involves gathering as much evidence as possible. Here, we want to discuss the process of determining fault as well as whether or not you need an attorney to help you through this.
Proving the Four Elements of Negligence
Personal injury claims in New Jersey are going to revolve around establishing four elements of negligence. These elements include:
- Duty. The plaintiff (the injury victim) must show that there was a duty of care established between them and the defendant (the alleged negligent party). This duty of care may not look the same for every type of injury case. For example, every person operating a vehicle on the roadway owes a duty of care to drive safely. Property owners who operate businesses that welcome the public owe a duty of care to ensure their premises are safe from hazards. The exact duty of care will have to be examined on a case-by-case basis.
- Breach. After establishing that there was a duty of care between the plaintiff and the defendant, an attorney will need to show that the defendant breached their duty of care. Again, a breach of duty will certainly look different depending on the situation at hand. A property owner who knows about loose and broken pavement right outside their door but fails to remedy the situation will likely have breached their duty of care. If a driver on the roadway is operating a vehicle with twice the legal limit of alcohol in their system, this would likely constitute a breach of duty of care.
- Causation. After establishing that a defendant breached their duty of care, it must be shown that the breach directly caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Winning a personal injury claim cannot happen just because a person breached their duty of care.
- Damages. Finally, it must be shown that the plaintiff suffered some sort of monetary loss as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty. These monetary losses can come in the form of medical bills, lost wages, property damage expenses, pain and suffering losses, and more.
Gathering Evidence to Prove What Happened
In order to prove the four elements of negligence, it is crucial to gather as much evidence as possible related to the incident and the injuries. Often, this evidence-gathering process begins at the scene of the incident. This is where individuals can:
- Take photographs of causes of the incident and the injuries
- Write down the names and contact information of eyewitnesses
- Report the incident to appropriate authorities to obtain an accident report
In the days and weeks that follow an injury, more evidence will likely come to light. It may be possible to gather video surveillance footage from nearby cameras. An attorney may also be able to obtain the safety history of the defendant in order to establish a pattern of similar behavior. Statements from eyewitnesses will be gathered and recorded.
These cases can become very complicated, and we strongly encourage you to work with a Jersey City personal injury attorney who has extensive experience handling complex claims.