In order to be compensated for injuries incurred in a personal injury lawsuit it is essential for the plaintiff to be able to prove that the defendant was at fault for causing the injuries. The plaintiff must prove the legal elements of the case by having the factual proof to meet each element of his or her cause of action.
The Legal Case
In order to prove fault in a personal injury lawsuit a plaintiff must establish that the defendant is liable, or legally responsible, for the victim’s injuries. In other words, a plaintiff must identify the legal cause of action pursuant to which he or she is bringing the personal injury lawsuit and prove all of the elements of that cause of action. Often, personal injury plaintiffs sue defendants on the basis of negligence. In order to prove fault and thereby recover damages in a negligence lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care, that the defendant breached that duty of care by failing to act like a reasonable person would act given the circumstances and that the defendant’s breach of the duty of care caused the victim’s injuries which would not have happened but for the plaintiff’s actions.
Using the Legal Discovery Process to Prove the Elements of the Legal Case
Each element of negligence, or other legal cause of action, must be proven by the plaintiff. It is not enough for the plaintiff to allege that the defendant is at fault but rather the plaintiff, together with his or her personal injury lawyer, must prove each element of the case with admissible evidence.
The quest for admissible evidence to prove fault begins at the plaintiff’s first meeting with his or her attorney. The plaintiff’s attorney will ask his or client to explain what happened and for any documentation related to the accident or the victim’s injuries. The plaintiff’s lawyer may later put the client on the stand to testify about the accident or injuries or use the documentation as evidence at trial. However, the plaintiff’s lawyer will typically need additional information that cannot be provided by the plaintiff in order to prove fault. The plaintiff’s lawyer will use the formal discovery process to request documentation from the defendant, to depose witnesses and to conduct a thorough investigation.
As the plaintiff’s lawyer obtains information relevant to the case, the attorney will apply that information to each element of the case. In a negligence action, for example, the attorney will prove fault in the case by using the evidence obtained from his own client and during discovery to make a case to the court that each element of negligence is satisfied by a preponderance of the evidence.
Plaintiffs often know who was responsible for the victim’s injuries. However, in order to recover damages each element of the cause of action must be proven with admissible evidence. A personal injury attorney can help you gather the evidence and make the legal arguments necessary to prove fault in a personal injury action.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.