Four elements must be established in a personal injury claim in order to recover damages from the defendant, or the party against whom the lawsuit has been filed.
Duty of care
The first element that you, the plaintiff, would need to establish would be whether there was a relationship between you and the defendant, and the defendant owed you a duty of care based on this relationship. In many cases, a duty of care is implied. For example, a driver has a duty of care to all other drivers on the road to operate the vehicle responsibly.
Negligence is a breach of the duty of care described above. In this sense, proving negligence is at the heart of all successful personal injury lawsuits. Establishing negligence can make or break your claim. Cornell University Law School defines negligence as the “failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.” Essentially, negligence is the act of doing something (or failing to act) unreasonably or irresponsibly.
While proving the existence of a duty of care and negligence are two important parts of a personal injury claim, they alone are not enough. You must further prove that your injuries would not have resulted but for the negligent actions of the defendant, or causation.
Finally, as a plaintiff, you must prove that you have suffered actual damages as a result of the accident. These damages may be economic or non-economic in nature. They often include things such as medical bills, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, pain, and suffering.