Personal injury claims are based on tort laws. A tort is conduct that causes injury or harm to another person. The party who caused the injury can be held liable for damages.
To recover compensation for damages, you must prove the legal elements of negligence or intentional wrongdoing to create liability. Causation is a key element necessary to prove fault and liability.
What Are the Legal Elements of a Personal Injury Claim?
Negligence is the failure to use the level of care that a reasonably prudent person would have used in the same situation. The legal elements you must prove are:
- Duty – The person responsible for causing your injury had a legal duty of care
- Breach of Duty – The person breached their duty of care through their actions or omissions
- Causation – The breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of your injury
- Damages – You sustained damages because of the breach of duty
You have the burden of proving the above elements. If you file a personal injury lawsuit, the level of proof is by a preponderance of the evidence. The evidence you present must convince the jurors that there is a greater than 50% chance that the defendant caused your injuries.
Common examples of personal injury claims based on negligence include:
- Auto accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Truck accidents
- Product liability claims
- Drunk driving accidents
- Wrongful death claims
The elements you must prove to create liability for intentional wrongdoing are similar. You must show that the person knew their conduct could cause harm, but they continued with the conduct despite that knowledge. The evidence must show that the conduct was the direct and proximate cause of your injuries and that you sustained damages.
Assault is a common example of intentional wrongdoing. The person knew that the conduct could harm you, but they chose to continue even though you would be injured.
How Do You Prove Causation in a Personal Injury Claim?
Causation can be one of the most difficult elements to prove in a personal injury case. You must link the at-fault party’s conduct directly to the cause of your injury through a cause and effect relationship. If you cannot create a link of causation, you cannot recover compensation for damages.
Proving cause requires you to prove “direct” and “proximate” causes. The direct cause is the factual reason something happens. It is also known as “but-for” causation because “but-for” the defendant’s actions, you wouldn’t have sustained an injury.
For example, a person is texting while driving and runs a red light. “But-for” them texting and running the red light, the collision with your vehicle would not have occurred.
The proximate cause can be more challenging to prove. This aspect of causation is about holding the right kinds of parties responsible for accidents. In the example above, you could technically hold the driver’s mother responsible if direct causation were the only type. “But-for” the mother giving birth to the driver, the accident would not have occurred.
But that line of reasoning is undesirable and would have disastrous consequences for the legal system and for the public, which is why you must also establish proximate cause.
Proximate cause entails showing that the defendant’s actions could foreseeably lead to the accident. It’s foreseeable that running a red light would result in an accident, but giving birth to someone who 30 years later runs a red light is not so foreseeable.
Common Types of Evidence Used to Prove Causation
The evidence you present must not only imply causation, but it must also create a direct link between conduct and the cause of your injury. Evidence in a personal injury case that can help establish the link of causation include, but is not limited to:
- Testimony from the parties involved in the case
- Copies of police reports, medical records, accident reports, etc.
- Physical evidence from the accident scene
- Testimony from expert witnesses, including accident reconstructionists, engineers, medical experts, manufacturing experts, etc.
- Employment records show that you missed time from work because of your injuries
- Expert opinions, research, and reports
- Photographs and videos of the accident and the accident scene
Our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers thoroughly investigate your claim. We gather evidence, work with experts, and pursue every possible factor that could lead to causation and liability.
What Damages Can I Receive for a Personal Injury Claim?
You can receive compensation for economic damages if you prove causation and the other legal elements required to establish liability. Examples of these damages include:
- Medical bills
- In-home nursing care
- Loss of income and benefits
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Personal care
- Diminished earning capacity
- Household services
In addition, you can recover compensation for non-economic damages. Non-economic damages represent the pain and suffering a person experiences after being in an accident or suffering a personal injury. Those damages include:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Physical pain
- Diminished quality of life
- Emotional distress
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Permanent impairments and disabilities
The value of your damages depends on the facts of the case. Generally, catastrophic injuries, disabling conditions, and other permanent impairments increase the value of damages.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyers
If another person caused your injury, you deserve compensation for your damages. Our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys have the experience, resources, and skills to fight and win. Contact us to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case at (702) 570-9000.