What Must You Show to Recover Compensation after a Personal Injury?
Though you can always bring a personal injury lawsuit based on the intentional or reckless acts of another person, as a practical matter, most personal injury claims are based on a legal theory of negligence. What is negligence? What must you show to convince a judge and jury that the defendant is liable for your losses?
The Legal Principle of Negligence
The laws governing negligence have developed over hundreds of years, originating in the common law in England. To successfully prove negligence, you must demonstrate to the court, by the weight of the evidence, that:
- The defendant (person from whom you seek compensation) must owe you a “duty of care,” meaning that the person must be in a position where the law holds them responsible for acting in a way led to your injury or refraining from actions that could have prevented it.
- The defendant did not act as a reasonable person would under the circumstances
- Because of the failure to act reasonably (also known as a breach of the duty of care), the defendant’s actions or inactions caused an accident or incident
- As a consequence of the accident or incident, you suffered damages.
The Standard of Reasonableness
Under the law as it has developed, every person in society, in all endeavors, must engage in reasonable behavior:
- When operating a motor vehicle
- When maintaining property
- When designing and manufacturing consumer products
- When keeping pets or animals
- When supervising and or overseeing a construction project or workplace.
The law does not, however, identify precisely what constitutes reasonable behavior. Instead, whether or not a defendant’s acts were reasonable is determined by the jury on a case-by-case basis.
How Do You Prove That the Unreasonable Acts Caused the Accident?
In a personal injury case, the plaintiff (injured party) must prove to the jury that the wrongful acts were both the “proximate” cause of his or her losses. The concept of proximate cause is complicated. In the simplest terms, proximate cause refers to a cause that happens in a logical and unbroken sequence, leading to the accident. You must also demonstrate that the accident and/or injury were reasonably foreseeable as a consequence of the wrongful behavior.
What Qualifies as Damages?
In a personal injury case, the injured party may recover monetary damages for pain, suffering, disability, impairment and loss of enjoyment of life, as well as past and future medical expenses and past and future lost wages or income. Whether, and to what extent you can be compensated for these damages varies depending on many factors, including the type of accident, and the availability of insurance to cover your losses, among other factors.
Contact New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney Matthew V. Markosian
At the office of attorney Matthew V. Markosian, we provide a free initial consultation to anyone with a potential personal injury claim. To set up a private meeting, call our offices at 609-455-2090 or contact us by email. We are available evenings and weekends, upon request. Because of our proven record of success, many of our new cases come to us as referrals from other attorneys, or from former clients.
We handle all personal injury cases on a contingency basis. We don’t get paid unless we recover compensation for your losses.
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