Proving Negligence in Your Personal Injury Case

If you’re injured in an accident, seeking and receiving compensation should be easy. You’re not to blame for the accident or your injuries, so a check for your damages should be in the mail.

Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly how the process works. You will need to show negligence, and this isn’t always easy.

Understanding negligence in your injury case can be a confusing process, and it’s one you don’t want to get wrong. If you can’t prove negligence, your compensation claim may be denied. Here’s what you should know about negligence and how it can affect your personal injury case.

What is Negligence?

Even though personal injury laws can vary slightly from state to state, the definition of negligence remains the same. According to Nevada state law, negligence occurs when an individual fails to live up to their duty of care. While this can seem a little complicated, it basically means someone’s actions are not what a reasonable person would’ve done in the same or a similar situation.

For example, if a bucket of water is spilled on the floor at work, a reasonable person will clean up the mess and place a caution sign in the area since this shows a duty of care. Negligence is intentionally ignoring the spill and purposefully not placing a ‘wet floor’ or other type of cautionary sign in the affected area. In this instance, the individual’s actions are negligent according to state law.

There are four elements of negligence:
1. Duty: The defendant owes the victim a reasonable amount of care
2. Breach of Duty: The defendant’s actions are not those of a reasonable person.
3. Causation: The cause of the accident. This is also tied to a breach of duty. The plaintiff suffered an injury due to the defendant’s breach of duty.
4. Damages: The injuries and/or property damage the victim suffers.

So, to go back to the wet floor example, the spill is the causation, and the lack of cleaning and placing a warning sign is the defendant’s duty and breach of duty. The damages are the injuries you suffer, along with any property damage.

How to Prove Negligence in a Personal Injury Case

Proving negligence means collecting evidence to prove each of the four points. Even though this can seem pretty simple, it can become complicated. There may not be any evidence of the accident or the events leading up to the incident. Unfortunately, you must prove that the accident occurred to support a negligence claim.

If you can’t prove negligence, you may not have a personal injury claim. This doesn’t necessarily mean covering the damages from the accident out of your pocket. You can always fall back on your insurance. For injuries, your health insurance should cover your medical expenses.

When it comes to property damage, it can be a little iffy. If property damage is to a vehicle, your auto insurance should cover repairs as long as it’s included in your policy terms. Hopefully, you can prove the accident did occur and it’s the result of someone’s negligent actions.

Evidence to Prove Negligence

The best way of proving negligence in a personal injury case is with an accident report. For vehicle accidents, you should have an incident report.

After the accident, the police will create an accident report and you can request a copy. Your accident report should be ready in about one week and you can request a copy online. There is a small fee but it’s affordable, it’s usually around $6.

If your injuries aren’t severe, you can also turn into a temporary amateur detective. Take some pictures of the accident scene, along with any injuries you sustain.

Since it’s almost impossible to get away from security cameras in Las Vegas, there’s a good chance there’s a video of your accident. The video can be invaluable when you’re trying to prove negligence.

Don’t forget about witnesses; make sure you get their contact information. While witnesses can be discredited, this is a civil and not a criminal case. This means witness testimony is often crucial in proving negligence.

Determining Duty of Care

Proving duty of care is a vital part of a negligence case, and your attorney will consider the entire accident events, including those leading up to the incident. To determine the duty of care, your attorney may consider the answers to a few questions that can include:
- Were the injuries you sustained a foreseeable event
- What is the likelihood the defendant’s actions could result in harm
- Were you aware of the potentially hazardous situation
- Are the defendant's actions acceptable by societal morns

If the defendant is aware their actions can cause injuries, you’re not aware of the potentially dangerous situation, and the defendant’s actions are not considered normal by society's standards, you can probably prove negligence.

What Damages Can You Claim

Okay, your attorney may indicate you can include any and all damages but don’t start creating a list the length of a book. In other words, don’t go overboard there are limitations. For example, you may be able to claim both economic and non-economic damages. However, everything must be directly related to the accident.

Economic damages are pretty straightforward. These typically include medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages. Non-economic damages are intangible, meaning there isn’t a price tag attached. Pain and suffering is a non-economic damage.

However, if you slip and fall at work you can’t claim a dent on your car’s front fender. Yes, it’s great if you can get it repaired for free. However, your dented fender isn’t caused by you slipping and falling on a wet floor.

Don’t Forget About the Statute of Limitations

You don’t have forever to file a negligence claim. Nevada gives you two years to file a claim from the date of the accident. If you’re a minor at the time of the accident, you can extend the statute until you’re an adult. However, this is one of the few exceptions allowed under state law.

Contact an Attorney About Your Negligence Case

Dealing with the intricacies of negligence law can indeed be perplexing and challenging, especially for those recovering from injuries. Seeking the assistance of a personal injury attorney can be a crucial step in such circumstances.

An attorney with expertise in this field can demystify the legal complexities and advocate on your behalf, ensuring that you are justly compensated for your injuries. Their guidance is invaluable in navigating these legal waters and securing a fair outcome in your case.

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Posted - 01/23/2024