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4 Elements of a Personal Injury Claim

ELI5: Negligence

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The CDC estimates that there were around 173,040 unintentional injury deaths in 2019—and those are just the fatal injuries. Additionally, many Americans suffered loss of income, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and emotional distress through catastrophic injuries. Though personal injury cases can cover a wide variety of things, from car accidents to medical malpractice, each personal injury claim has the same four elements. In order to have a successful personal injury claim, plaintiffs must be able to prove each element of these four elements.

PRESENCE OF DUTY:

The plaintiff must begin by establishing a presence of duty. An important element of presence of duty is foreseeability. In plain English, this refers to the defendant’s ability to reasonably anticipate the potential results of an action or lack thereof. In a personal injury claim, the plaintiff must show that the defendant had a duty of care. For example, if the defendant’s dog attacked the plaintiff, it could be argued that, under Utah’s strict liability tort, the defendant is liable for any injuries their dog causes.

BREACH OF DUTY:

Once presence of duty is established, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the duty has been breached. Since Utah’s strict liability tort holds the owner of the animal responsible for any attacks, we know the owner has a responsibility to take reasonable care in preventing attacks.

Perhaps the dog was tethered too close to the sidewalk, or maybe the dog wasn’t on a leash at all. Both of these situations demonstrate that the defendant breached their duty of care.

PROVING CAUSATION:

Once you’ve established that there was a duty of care and it was breached, you will need to show that your injuries were caused by the defendant’s negligence. This is sometimes known as “causation.” In the case of a dog attack, you will have to prove that the dog attack caused your injuries. Medical records, pictures of the injury, and eye-witness testimonies may help prove that the dog attack caused your injuries.

DAMAGES:

The final element of a personal injury claim is proving damages. Many plaintiffs seek compensation for medical expenses and loss of income. However, in cases where the injuries were more severe, a plaintiff may be able to seek compensation for future medical expenses. If the injuries the plaintiff has suffered has impacted their future earnings, the court may also award the plaintiff compensation for loss of future earnings. In cases of wrongful death, the plaintiff may be entitled to funeral expenses, and loss of financial contribution as well.

CLAIMING PAIN AND SUFFERING OR EMOTIONAL DISTRESS:

It’s very easy to prove damages in the form of medical expenses and loss of income: pay stubs and hospital bills are readily available, and they detail an exact dollar amount. But what about emotional distress and pain and suffering? It is often difficult to put a dollar amount on these types of damages. If you have questions about seeking compensation for pain and suffering, or emotional distress, you may need to enlist the help of an experienced attorney who can make sure you’re getting the compensation you’re entitled to.

HIRING A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY:

If you have been injured and you are unsure of how to move forward, Moxie Law Group is here to help. Moxie Law Group is a female-led personal injury firm dedicated to getting maximum and fair compensation for people who have been seriously injured. At Moxie Law Group, our attorneys know the ins and outs of personal injury. If you have questions about your personal injury claim, do not hesitate to contact us today.

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