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Proving a negligence case

Negligence is one of the most common torts that form the basis of a civil lawsuit. In order to prove negligence, plaintiffs generally must show that a defendant owed them a duty that was breached and that this was the actual and proximate cause of damages.


Perhaps the most important element of negligence is duty. Plaintiffs can demonstrate a duty because individuals typically must act with the level of care of a reasonably prudent person. In addition, under the right circumstances, a law can provide a legal duty that can form the basis for a negligence claim. Employers may have a separate duty to supervise their employees and, under the right circumstances, can be held liable for the individual duties of workers.


Breach is often the easiest element of negligence to prove. Essentially, a plaintiff needs to show that a defendant did not act as a reasonably prudent person in the circumstances giving rise to a claim. If a statute is being used as the basis of a duty, then the plaintiff needs to show that a defendant breached the statute involved.


Causation has two parts in negligence claims. First, plaintiffs must show that “but for” the defendant’s actions, the incident involved in a lawsuit would not have occurred. Then, plaintiffs need to show that there is enough of a connection between the defendant’s breach and the plaintiff’s injuries that liability should be imposed. Causation can be a complicated element to prove, so a skilled personal injury attorney may help a victim establish causation.


Damages are the final element of negligence. This typically involves injuries, lost income, economic losses and other damages. If you have been injured by the fault of another, you may want to speak to a personal injury lawyer to see if you have a cause of action for negligence and to learn how much you might be eligible for in compensation.