If you were injured because of someone else’s actions and want to seek compensation for the harm you’ve suffered, you will need to be able to prove the claim. As the plaintiff in a civil case, you bear the burden of proof. A judge or jury cannot simply fork over the money you want; you must be able to show certain legal elements that establish your right to it.
Most personal injury claims are based on the legal theory of negligence. Breach of duty is one of the essential legal elements of a negligence claim. Here is what you need to know about this essential aspect of your claim.
The Legal Elements Involved in Negligence Claims
To recover compensation for your negligence claim, you must be able to prove the following four legal elements by a preponderance of the evidence:
Duty of Care
Duty is the care that one person owes to another. The duty can be based on law, contract, or custom.
Breach of Duty
A breach of duty is when the party fails to uphold their legal duty.
When a person’s breach of duty causes the victim’s injuries, they can be held legally and financially responsible for the damages that result.
Damages are the recognized losses that someone suffers in an accident.
This includes economic damages that can be quantified, such as:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Loss of household services
- Costs to repair or replace damaged personal property
Damages also include those non-economic losses you suffer that are not as easy to quantify, such as pain, suffering, and distress.
Different Standards of Care To Understand
The duty that a person owes to others is based on the particular circumstances. The legal duty the defendant owes to a potential plaintiff can also depend on the relationship between the parties, whether there is a contract between them, and the customs involved in the situation.
Some common types of duties involved in Florida personal injury cases include:
- A doctor owes a patient the duty to provide the level of care or treatment expected from an average medical provider.
- A nursing home has the duty to provide the services for which it contracts with the patient and the patient’s family.
- Property owners must maintain their property in a safe condition to avoid causing accidents or injuries to others.
- Motorists owe a duty of care to other motorists and road users to follow traffic laws and operate their vehicles in a safe manner.
Absent any particular duty established by law, contract, or custom, all people owe each other the duty to act as a reasonably prudent person who avoids causing injury to others.
Examples of Breach of Duty
A breach of duty occurs when someone violates their legal duty and causes injury to another.
Common examples of breach of duty in negligence cases include:
- A doctor fails to order appropriate tests and fails to diagnose a patient with a medical condition.
- A nursing home is understaffed and fails to provide adequate care to its residents.
- A property owner allows a slippery floor to stay in place for too long and a customer slips and falls.
- A driver speeds and causes a car accident.
These cases depend on the facts. Having strong evidence can help demonstrate that the defendant breached the duty of care.
How To Prove Breach of Duty in a Florida Personal Injury Case
One particularly important aspect of your case may be to show that the defendant did not act as a reasonable person would have under the circumstances. This is a very subjective test and varies by each case.
The jury can compare the defendant’s actions to what they believe a reasonable person would have done under the circumstances. If you and your Orlando injury lawyer can prove that the defendant’s conduct fell below the reasonable person standard, you may be able to show they breached the duty of care and are responsible for the damages you suffered.
As the plaintiff, you will need to prove the following to recover compensation for your claim:
- What the legal duty was
- How the defendant breached the legal duty
- That the defendant’s breach of duty was the direct and legal cause of the accident
- That you suffered damages
Your lawyer can help identify the evidence to help you establish these elements. Because careless parties may not readily admit their wrongdoing, proving these elements will usually require additional evidence beyond your personal testimony.
Evidence that can help support your case may include:
- The accident report
- Witness statements
- Photos or videos from the accident scene
- Physical evidence, such as damaged car parts or tire tread on the roadway
- Electronic evidence, such as the data stored in a truck’s black box
- Personnel records to show known problems with an employee
- Maintenance records
- Medical records
Obtaining strong evidence to establish the various elements of your claim is only one important way a personal injury lawyer can help. Contact a Florida personal injury lawyer at Payer Personal Injury Lawyers to protect your legal rights or call (407) 648-1510 to schedule a free consultation.