When someone consults a personal injury lawyer in Newnan, GA, the circumstances of the accident or injury will be discussed in detail. In most personal injury claims, the basis for holding a company or person legally responsible for the harm is a legal theory known as “negligence”. Whether a personal injury claim is settled informally or goes to court, determining fault is essential.
The Four Elements of a Negligence Claim
The following four elements must be proven in order to demonstrate that the defendant (the person who is allegedly at fault) acted in a negligent manner.
* Breach of duty
Did the defendant owe the plaintiff or victim a legal duty of care? For example, a doctor has a legal duty to provide competent medical care to a patient. The driver of a vehicle has a legal duty to operate a motor vehicle safely, owing a certain level of due care to others. The owner of a building open to the public, such as a store, has a legal duty to provide a safe environment.
Breach of Duty
Once it has been established that the defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty of care, then it must be determined that the defendant breached this duty. Would a “reasonably prudent person” have acted this way in a similar circumstance? Did the doctor provide substandard care or miss a diagnosis that other doctors would have made? Was the driver speeding, driving recklessly or under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Did the owner of a store make no attempt to guard and clean a spill in a timely manner?
Next, it’s necessary to show that the plaintiff’s injury was caused by the defendant’s negligence. Even if the defendant’s negligence harmed someone else, it’s necessary to prove that the defendant is legally responsible for the plaintiff’s injury.
Compensatory damages include:
* Medical expenses
* Future medical expenses
* Lost wages and future earnings
* Household expenses
* Other costs.
Punitive damages may be awarded if the defendant’s behavior is considered especially reprehensible.
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