If you want to get a settlement after being injured in an accident, there needs to be evidence of negligence to prove that the accident was someone's fault. Negligence has four elements: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages.
Also called “duty of care”, this is a person's responsibility to “exercise reasonable care” and not injure someone.
A “breach of duty” is when someone who had a duty breaches it (fails in their responsibility) by doing something they shouldn't have or failing to do something they should have (omission).
Causation means that the injury suffered was “a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendant's act or omission.” Basically, that the party who caused your accident really caused it and should have known better.
Damages are compensation for the losses that the injured party has as a result of an accident. Damages put a dollar amount on the accident and can be either compensatory or punitive.
Compensatory damages are money paid to compensate the injured party for losses as a result of the accident. They are the most common type of damages paid out in a personal injury case. This type of damages is often paid to compensate the injured party for medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Punitive damages are when the at-fault party has to pay the victim as punishment for especially egregious behavior. Negligence or carelessness is not enough to get punitive damages. To be eligible for punitive damages, there must be “gross negligence” or “wanton disregard” for the safety of others.
You don't need to know all of these elements. A lot of the time the fact that someone was negligent and is responsible for your injuries isn't even debatable. In those cases the only debate is how much money you should get. Still, it is helpful to have an understanding of how negligence is proven.
If you've been injured in any type of accident, you should get a personal injury attorney to represent you because they can give you the best odds of getting all the money you deserve. And fortunately personal injury lawyers don't cost you any money out of your own pocket. Rather, they are paid a percentage of the money they recover for you, giving them the incentive to work for the biggest settlement.
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