How to Establish Negligence in Cases of Personal Injury

Cases of Personal Injury

Proving negligence in personal injury cases is essential to a successful recovery. Your attorney will use medical records, expert testimony, witness statements, and other documents to establish the expected standard of care and how the defendant’s actions (or lack thereof) fell short of that standard.

You must prove that the defendant’s breach caused your injuries. Your injury would not have occurred without the defendant’s negligent behavior.

Duty of Care

We all owe one another a duty of care to avoid conduct that might foreseeably cause harm to others. When a person breaches this duty and injuries occur, they may be liable in a personal injury claim or lawsuit. However, the breach of this legal duty must directly result in an injury before liability is established. This element of negligence, called causation, can be challenging to prove.

For example, a house owner who fails to remove broken glass from the walkway leading to their front door may be found negligent if a visitor slips and falls. While this seems like a clear negligence case, many people breach their care duties and never find themselves liable for injuries or damage they cause. This is because not every breach of duty results in an injury. For instance, a driver who accidentally swerves into another lane and avoids a collision is not considered negligent.

Breach of Duty

It must be shown that the defendant violated the duty of care. A “breach” can be any action or omission that falls short of what the average person would do under similar circumstances. Your attorney may use expert testimony to demonstrate that the defendant’s actions (or lack of actions) were not what a reasonable person would have done and that their failure to act was the direct cause of your injury.

In some cases, the defendant’s actions leading to injury will be considered reasonably foreseeable. This standard test is used to determine negligence under statutes and regulations. For example, suppose you can show that the defendant could have reasonably expected their action or inaction to result in an accident and injury. In that case, they are likely negligent for violating that law. This element is usually easier to prove than the other two elements.


The final aspect of an injury resulted from another person’s negligence is showing that the defendant’s actions directly caused your injuries. Your attorney will present medical bills, emergency records, witness statements, and injury photos to prove the defendant’s breach caused your accident and injuries.

Proving that the defendant acted negligently is insufficient to hold them liable for your damages. You must also show that their negligence caused you to suffer an injury. This is known as causation, and it asks, “But for the defendant’s actions, would you have suffered your injury?”

It is not uncommon for multiple factors to cause a particular type of injury. For example, a driver may run a red light and get rear-ended by another car. In this case, both drivers could be found negligent. In this situation, it is essential to have an experienced attorney who can argue that both parties may share some liability for the accident.


To secure compensation in a negligence claim, you must successfully establish the four elements of the doctrine: duty, breach, causation, and damages/harm. In most personal injury cases, proving the first two elements is relatively straightforward. The defendant owed you a legal duty, breached that duty, and the breach directly caused your injury.

However, proving the last element can be more challenging. The defendant’s acts must be proven to have directly resulted in your injuries, according to your attorney. 

Negligence claims are often complicated, so you must work with a lawyer with experience handling such cases.