Are you struggling to cope with the unanticipated financial and emotional consequences of injuries that resulted from another party's careless or reckless behavior? Then you might have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit in a Georgia civil court -- regardless of whether it was a car accident, a slip-and-fall accident or another cause. However, the most challenging part of such a claim might be establishing negligence.
The theory of "negligence" is the basis for holding a storeowner, company, driver or any other party liable for damages. If you can show that the other party was negligent, the court might hold him or her responsible for any resulting damage or harm.
Elements to prove
If you file a personal injury lawsuit, you will be the plaintiff, and the alleged at-fault parties will be the defendants. For such a claim to have a successful outcome, you must prove the four elements of negligence. They are duty, breach, causation and damages, and you must prove them all.
You must show that the defendant owed you a legal duty of care. This is the first element that the court will assess. A defendant's relationship with you could create that duty, such as a doctor who owes you a legal duty to provide competent care. If your injuries followed an auto accident, the other driver was expected to operate his or her vehicle with due care.
Breach of legal duty
This entails the defendant breaching the duty of care by acting -- or failing to act -- in a reasonably expected way. Here the court uses a legal standard of expectation for a person to act in a way that any reasonably prudent person would act. This compares the defendant's actions with that of the average person in similar circumstances.
The third element to prove is that the defendant's breach of duty caused your injuries. The alleged negligence must be a direct cause of the injuries. The court will also want to see that potential harm was reasonably foreseeable by the defendant.
Once you have established the other three elements to the court's satisfaction, you must provide documented proof of damages sustained as the result of the defendant's reckless or negligent actions. This typically includes bills for medical care and property repairs, if applicable. You may also seek recovery of noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering or mental anguish. However, such claims are hard to quantify and to motivate.
Does this seem daunting?
Not many people in Pennsylvania are brave enough to navigate the process of proving of the elements of negligence on their own. Resources are available to assist by providing the necessary support and guidance throughout the legal proceedings of a personal injury lawsuit-- from determining the viability of a claim to the presentation in the civil court.