When it comes to any personal injury claim or insurance settlement, one of the most important questions you will face is: which party is at fault? Determining fault in a personal injury claim is a crucial threshold issue because once a fault is established, the party found at fault is responsible for paying compensation to the injured party. This type of compensation is also known as “damages,” and they are paid via a negotiated settlement or court order.
How Is Liability Determined?
Precisely who determines fault in an injury claim often depends on the circumstances of the case. Injured parties represented by an attorney should expect their attorney to investigate the matter thoroughly. The point of the investigation is to discover all potential parties at fault and make a final liability determination. Parties who might be found liable in an injury claim usually carry liability insurance, which leads the burden of satisfying a damages award to an insurance company. Moreover, insurance companies typically conduct their investigations and make an independent liability decision. If the parties involved cannot agree on liability, they will be forced to file a personal injury lawsuit. A civil court jury will have the ultimate say of who is at fault.
How Is Negligence Proven?
The vast majority of injury claims occur because one of the parties acted negligently. Negligence is defined as conduct that falls below the standard of care expected of a reasonable person and causes harm to another person. Legal elements of negligence that must be proven to hold a party liable for personal injury damages are:
Duty: A legal obligation that is owed to the defendant by the plaintiff must exist in every successful injury claim. For example, every driver owes a duty of care to other motorists on the road.
Breach: The plaintiffs must prove that the defendant breached a legal duty. By using the example above, a violation would occur if a motorist carelessly looked down at their cellphone to text while driving.
Causation: Defendants must be the cause of a plaintiff’s harm or injuries. This element is usually evident in most injury cases. For example, if the defendant’s car rear-ends the plaintiff’s car, causation can’t be in question.
Damages: The plaintiff must incur actual damages that stem from the accident. These damages are usually monetary. Damages typically include lost income from time lost at work, property damage, incurred medical bills, among other types of damage.
How Does the Court Prove Fault?
Legal elements of negligence or strict liability are relatively straightforward but proving each one of them can be difficult. Simply put, a fault is proven in every personal injury case using the facts and evidence of that particular case. Attorneys and other parties trying to establish liability are responsible for completing a thorough investigation of the details and circumstances of an injury claim. Once these steps are completed, attorneys can make a well-informed and sound liability decision.
Are you in the process of filing a personal injury liability claim? Don’t go through this rigorous process all by yourself. Contact Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton today to work with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers.