In a classic personal injury case, to establish a negligence claim, a plaintiff with the help of their catastrophic injury lawyer in Las Vegas, NV must prove duty, breach, causation, and damages: (1) the defendant owed a duty of care; (2) the defendant breached that duty; (3) the breach was the legal cause of the plaintiff’s injuries; and (4) the plaintiff’s damages are a result. To prevail, a plaintiff must provide sufficient evidence that will allow a judge or jury to reasonably find he or she met these elements.
Everyone has a duty to act with reasonable care to prevent foreseeable harm to others. The standard of care is how the average person would act. This standard does not take into account those who act with extreme caution or those that have certain skills, just a person of reasonable and ordinary care. That is, if an individual is engaging in risky activity that has the potential to harm others, he or she has a duty to act as a reasonable and careful person would in the same or similar situation. If an individual fails to act with reasonable care of another person in the same or similar situation, that individual has engaged in negligent behavior.
An individual will breach his duty of care when he or she fails to act with reasonable care to prevent harm to others, and does in fact harm someone, or causes someone to be harmed.
A plaintiff must prove that a breach of a duty caused him or her harm which would have not ordinarily occurred. Causation is usually divided into two sections and both need to be proved: actual cause and proximate cause.
An actual cause is when a plaintiff would not have been injured “but for” a defendant’s negligence or when a defendant’s negligence is the “substantial-factor” in causing the plaintiff’s harm. The “but for” theory of causation applies when a plaintiff’s injuries could not have been caused “but-for” the defendant’s negligence. The “substantial-factor” theory of causation applies when there is more than one cause of a plaintiff’s injury, but when operating alone, one of those causes was enough to cause the plaintiff’s injury on its own. Different jurisdictions follow different causation theories, so it is important to determine which causation theory your jurisdiction follows.
Proximate cause encompasses the foreseeability requirement. This means that a defendant must foresee that his breach will cause plaintiff’s injury. The “but-for” and “substantial-factor” causation theories require the plaintiff’s injury to be a foreseeable result of the defendant’s breach.
In situations where two or more defendant’s act together to cause a plaintiff’s injury, a plaintiff can decide to sue more than one defendant for the same injury. In this situation, the defendants are said to be jointly and severally liable to the plaintiff for his or her injuries. This means that the defendant’s can determine the percentage of fault each may owe to the plaintiff for her damages. It does not matter how much each defendant contributes to the plaintiff’s damages, as long as he or she is compensated for the loss. If one defendant contributes more than his share of damages, he can seek contribution from the other defendant(s) for the excess amount paid.
The plaintiff must prove that he or she was harmed or injured as a result of the defendant’s actions. A plaintiff should be compensated for past and future damages in the form of medical expenses, pain and suffering, and emotional distress, if applicable.
Thanks to Eglet Adams for their insight into personal injury claims and the classic negligence theory.