To prevail in a personal injury case, you must prove that the defendant’s negligence caused your injuries. While achieving this may sound straightforward, the court requires proof of four separate elements. Here's a more detailed look at each component and what's involved.
4 Aspects of Successful Personal Injury Cases
1. Duty of Care
Before you can prove negligence, you need to establish that the other party had a legal responsibility to you, known as a duty of care. The specifics of proving duty of care vary based on the circumstances. For example, business owners generally owe a duty to the public to keep their premises free of dangerous conditions. Drivers, on the other hand, are responsible for safely operating their vehicles.
2. Breach of Duty
The second element of an injury claim is where legal negligence comes into play. For this step, you need to show that the other party breached the required duty of care. For instance, if a person is texting behind the wheel and their inattention causes an accident, their duty is breached. In such instances, security and traffic cameras may prove the failure, along with witness statements and even phone records.
It's important to note that the breach must have taken place within the set legal timeframe, which varies by state. In Missouri, injured parties have five years to make a claim from the date of the incident. A failure to do so forfeits the opportunity to file a case, although there may be exceptions and you should always consult an attorney when in doubt.
With causation, the court requires proof that your personal injury was a direct result of the defendant's actions. This element often requires medical evidence to show a link between the incident and the injuries you suffered.
The final step involved is presenting evidence of either financial loss, physical harm, mental and emotional harm, or all of the above. Medical bills and lost wages resulting from the injury are commonly presented for economic damages.
When individuals have also experienced psychological issues related to the incident, like documented PTSD, evidence of this harm may be presented. However, even if you do not suffer from medically documented harm such as PTSD, you may always present evidence of your physical and mental harms and losses through your own testimony or through the testimony of friends, family or co-workers. These losses, which affect your quality of life, are often the most important losses to prove in a personal injury case.
If you've suffered a costly injury, reach out to Allen, Nelson & Wilson to learn about your legal options in Missouri. Residents across Boone and Greene counties rely on the driven attorneys for trusted representation with their personal injury cases, ranging from auto collisions to workplace accidents. Request a free consultation today at (573) 441-2667 in Columbia or (888) 549-2667 in Springfield, and review their practice areas online.