Proving Fault in a Personal Injury Lawsuit: The Concept of Negligence

Most personal injury cases are based on negligence, and that means you must prove all the necessary legal elements to win the case. Negligence is a legal theory that the plaintiff must prove to get the entity legally responsible for the harm suffered held accountable for their actions. Nearly all personal injury lawsuits require proof of negligence. This is the primary reason you should consult with a personal injury lawyer in Portland for legal counsel and representation.

Elements of negligence

For you (the plaintiff) to win a lawsuit involving negligence, you must prove all the necessary elements. These include;

Duty of care

The outcome of most negligence lawsuits depends on whether the accused owed a duty to the plaintiff. This duty arises whenever the law recognizes some form of relations between the accused and the claimant that requires the defendant to act in a specific way according to a standard of care towards the plaintiff.

The judge presiding your case will determine whether the offender owed you a duty of care. And the simplest way to do so is to determine whether a reasonable person, under similar circumstances, would find a duty of care exists. Remember, you (the plaintiff) must prove that a duty of care existed. Otherwise, your claim will be denied.

Breach of duty

Proving that the defendant owed you a duty of care is just a single piece of the puzzle. You must provide sufficient evidence that the defendant breached this duty. That means he or she failed to exercise a reasonable level of care in fulfilling their duty. Note that the question of whether a duty of care exists is decided by a judge. On the other hand, the issue of whether the accused party breached a duty of care issue is handled by a jury.


You must prove that the offender’s actions were the actual direct cause of your injuries and other losses you suffered. In most cases, this is known as ‘but-for’ causation. That means, but for the offender’s actions, you would not have suffered these injuries. Work with your attorney to establish a direct link between the defendant’s actions and your injuries.

Proximate cause

This relates to the scope of the accused person’s responsibility in a negligence lawsuit. The accused will be held responsible for the injuries that they could have foreseen through their choices. If the complaint filed accuses the defendant of damages that are beyond the risks that the accused could have foreseen, then it’s impossible for you to prove that the accused person’s negligence was the proximate cause of your damages.


You (the plaintiff) must prove recognized harm. This could be a physical injury, psychological injuries, and property damage, such as a damaged vehicle due to a car accident. You must prove that the defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable care resulted in your injuries, property damage, or other forms of damages such as emotional injuries, pain, and suffering.

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