Going After Those Who Caused Harm or Loss: All About the Elements of Negligence

Going After Those Who Caused Harm or Loss: All About the Elements of Negligence


Have you ever wondered how lawyers prove negligence in court?

Negligence is the failure to take proper care in doing something, given certain standards, that results in injury or harm to another person. A few conditions must be met to prove negligence in court. Your personal injury lawyer will use these elements of negligence to determine fault.

Here’s what those elements are and what you can expect during the legal process.

Duty of Care

Did the defendant owe the plaintiff a duty of care? The law recognizes this as a relationship in which the defendant should have acted in a certain manner or provided a standard of care.

For instance, business owners are legally obligated to keep their premises in a safe condition for employees and customers. This might mean following through with regular inspections that could spot hazards.

Breach of Duty

Defendants breach their duty when they fail to demonstrate reasonable care in following a duty, such as failure to meet a standard of care. As an example, a driver that was texting while he was driving breached his duty to other drivers as he was expected to drive safely.

Preventable accidents, such as vehicle collisions, can often result in injuries. Accidents can lead to harm or wrongful death. Learn more here about wrongful death and hiring a negligence attorney.

In order to establish liability, lawyers must prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. They must also prove that the individual definitely breached their duty and that action caused harm or led to the plaintiff suffering damages.

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Cause in Fact

Cause in fact or causation is yet another of the elements of negligence a personal injury lawyer must prove. Plaintiffs have to prove the cause of their injury and loss was due to the defendant’s actions. There must be a correlation between a harmful or negligent action and the consequence.

Proximate Cause

Proximate cause means that the action of the individual that owes the plaintiff a duty caused the injury as a direct cause of their negligence. There must be a definite correlation between the harmful action and the consequence.

Defendants are only responsible for any harm they could have foreseen and reasonably prevented. A remote cause of an injury is not proximate cause.

This is usually, but not always, easy to determine.


Damages include medical costs for care, emotional distress, lost wages, and so on. If a plaintiff suffered severe injuries as a result of a defendant’s negligence, they have to consider the cost for their medical care and lost wages as a result of being unable to work.

Plaintiffs must prove physical injury or damage to property, such as a ruined car due to an auto accident.

These Elements of Negligence Can Help You Win

To have a solid case, all these elements of negligence must be present. A personal injury lawyer can help you win your lawsuit if they can prove these essential elements of negligence.

For even more law-related content, check out some of our other informative posts.