Proving Negligence in Personal Injury Claims

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Understanding Negligence

The most common types of personal injury lawsuits involve claims of negligence.

Negligence describes a situation in which an individual acts in a careless, or "negligent" manner, resulting in someone getting hurt or property being damaged.

It's often a difficult area of law to define since it involves a legal analysis of all the elements of negligence as they relate to each particular case's facts.

Negligence is the legal concept that forms the framework of fault, as well as a legal theory that must be proved before you can hold a person or company legally responsible for the harm suffered.

Proving negligence is required in most personal injury claims, such as car accidents, slip and falls, or wrongful deaths. In most cases, the victim relies on the legal concept of "negligence" to establish support for the case itself.

Elements of Negligence

Negligence claims must prove four (4) elements in court — duty, breach, causation, and damages/harm.
In order to win a negligence case, the person injured must prove the following elements to show that the person at fault acted negligently:
1.Duty of Care — The defendant owed a legal duty to the plaintiff under the circumstances;
2.Breach of Duty The defendant breached that legal duty by acting or failing to act in a certain way;
3.Causation The defendant's actions (or inaction) that actually caused the plaintiff's injury;
4.Damages The plaintiff was harmed or injured as a result of the defendant's actions.

A negligence case is usually proven through one of two (2) types of evidence:

  1. Direct evidence, derived from the personal knowledge of a witness or from images in a photograph or video constitutes direct evidence.
  2. Circumstantial evidence, by comparison, requires a fact-finder to draw an inference based on the evidence that has been produced.

A plaintiff in some instances may also rely on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, which is Latin for "the thing speaks for itself."

This doctrine allows a jury in a negligence case to infer that a defendant acted negligently, even without other proof of misconduct.

For this theory to apply, the plaintiff must prove that the event that occurred usually doesn't happen in the absence of negligence, and that they had exclusive control of the instrument causing injury.

How to Prove Negligence Claims

Step #1: Duty of Care
The first step when assessing a negligence claim is whether the defendant owed duty of care to the victim based on the circumstances surrounding the injury.

Step #2: Breach of Duty
The second step in proving negligence is whether the defendant breached duty by doing (or not) doing something that an average person would do under similar circumstances — knowing what the defendant knew, and that someone could have been injured as a result of their actions — would have acted differently in that situation.

Step #3: Causation
Causation is the third step in proving negligence, and requires that the plaintiff show that the defendant's negligence actually caused their injury.

Another aspect of this is that the defendant could reasonably have foreseen their actions causing injury, and if their actions somehow caused injury through random, unexpected acts of nature, then the defendant would likely be found liable.

Step #4: Damages
Damages are the final element in proving negligence, and require that the court be able to compensate the victim for their damages or injury (usually through monetary compensation). Damages refer to a legally recognized harm, which typically refers to physical injury or property damage.

Need Expert Legal Help With Your Negligence Case?

Personal injuries can be traumatic experiences, and also cost time, and money. Many people often downplay the necessity of hiring a personal injury attorney without realizing the advantages they can bring to your peace of mind and your claim.

Any time you are injured as the result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation under California law.

Our Dedicated Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help

If you or a loved one are experiencing a personal injury due to negligence, you deserve an experienced personal injury lawyer to fight passionately by your side.

If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, our experienced personal injury attorneys will protect your legal rights and help you recover the compensation for your damages and injuries endured.

If you'd like to learn about proving negligence, need legal advice, or if you have questions about how negligence applies to your case, please don't hesitate to reach out to our personal injury law firm as soon as possible.

For a free initial consultation and dedicated representation, contact us by phone at (323) 999-3500 or by email at

Personal Injury Attorneys in Los Angeles

Our attorneys at the Law Offices of Oscar H Gutierrez have 40+ years of combined experience in handling personal injury cases, and will guide you through the legal process, while you focus on recovering from your injuries.

Our responsibility is to make sure you feel as comfortable as possible throughout the entire process, and most importantly, earning what you are entitled to for enduring such pain.

At the Law Offices of Oscar H Gutierrez, we're fully equipped to handle your personal injury negligence case with:

  • 40+ Years of Experience
  • Millions of Dollars Recovered
  • Thousands of Cases Resolved
  • We Help You Claim What’s Yours!