- July 12
- Personal Injury
If you were injured in an accident, you may wonder, “How do you prove negligence in an injury case?” Proving negligence in Texas personal injury claims isn’t always easy. Nonetheless, it is necessary if you want to receive financial compensation for your injuries.
You can potentially prove negligence in a personal injury case if there is evidence that shows the other party’s fault. A defective or hazardous condition may also help prove negligence. To establish negligence in an injury case, you’ll need to prove:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care.
- They breached their duty.
- Their negligent actions or failure to act led to your accident and injuries.
- You suffered damages due to the accident.
While you may know that your accident, injuries, and damages are entirely the defendant’s fault, for you to receive compensation, you must prove this with concrete evidence. An experienced lawyer can investigate your accident and help gather and analyze the evidence needed to prove negligence in your personal injury claim.
At Evans/Reilley Law Firm, our legal team is well-versed in the law of negligence and is ready to help you prove negligence in a Texas injury lawsuit. Our attorneys can begin tracking down valuable evidence and help you document your injuries. But first, you need to know how negligence works in personal injury claims and whether you have a valid claim.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is a legal theory applied in personal injury cases to hold an individual or entity legally liable for harm and damages caused by their actions or inactions.
According to The Cambridge Dictionary, negligence is “the fact of not giving enough care or attention to someone or something.”
Cornell Law School defines negligence as a “failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.”
In Texas personal injury cases, negligent conduct involves participating in wrongful actions that could harm others, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or texting while driving. Negligence also includes the failure to act, such as a restaurant owner who fails to clean up slippery floors to prevent more slip and fall injuries.
How Do You Prove Negligence in an Injury Case?
Negligence is the basis for most personal injury cases in Texas. Proving that an accident occurred isn’t enough to create liability. Still, it requires more than showing the defendant was careless.
To prove negligence in an injury case, you must prove the four elements of negligence: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages.
While going through the above elements of negligence in a personal injury case, let’s use an example to illustrate how negligence works. Suppose you suffered a traumatic brain injury during a motorcycle accident in Texas after another driver hit you while texting and driving. In that case, you have to prove the four elements to establish negligence.
Duty of Reasonable Care
The first element of a negligence claim in Texas is “duty of care.” You (the plaintiff) must prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care.
Duty of care, in legal terms, is an obligation to act in a certain way by law, morality, personal commitment, or custom. Oftentimes, this element arises from the relationship between the claimant and the accused, such as in cases involving a landlord and a tenant.
In negligence claims, “duty of care” often implies that one party had a legal obligation to act in a reasonable manner to avoid harming the other party. For example, all drivers in Texas have a legal responsibility to obey all traffic rules and regulations and drive safely.
Going with our example, you and your lawyer will bear the burden of proving that the other motorist, who was texting while driving, owed you a duty of care. Your Texas personal injury lawyer should do this by citing the general duty of all road users to abide by federal and state traffic laws.
Here are examples of different parties and the duty of care they owe:
|Party||Duty of Care|
|Drivers||Duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid harming other road users.|
|Bus drivers||Duty to exercise the highest degree of care to ensure the safety of passengers.|
|Landlords/Store owners||Duty to exercise reasonable care when maintaining their premises, including keeping them free of deadly hazards.|
|Manufacturers||Duty to sell products with no defects.|
|Medical professionals||Duty to exercise the degree of care that a reasonable medical professional with similar training and experience would offer.|
Breach of Duty in a Negligence Claim
Once you’ve established “duty,” the next element of negligence that you must prove is ” breach.” A breach occurs when a party fails to perform their duty of care or their contractual obligations. In other words, their actions fell below the duty of care they owed you.
To prove this element, you typically compare the defendant’s actions or inactions to those of a hypothetical reasonable person. Would an ordinary person in a similar position have anticipated that their actions would have caused the accident and harm? If so, the defendant can be considered negligent.
Referring to our example, you could establish a breach of care by showing that the driver violated their duty to follow traffic rules by texting while driving. Any reasonable driver on Texas roads wouldn’t engage in any form of distracted driving.
In the case of professionals, such as those in specialized fields like structural engineers and doctors, experts typically have to testify about industry standards and whether the defendant’s conduct fell short of those norms.
Once you’ve established the defendant’s breach, you must establish the third element: causation. Here, Texas courts will require proof showing the defendant’s careless conduct led to your injury.
One way to go about this is by asking: Would the injury have occurred if the defendant hadn’t acted the way they did? If the answer to this question is “no,” then the defendant’s conduct caused the harm.
Using our example, you’d have to argue that if the other driver hadn’t been distracted, you wouldn’t have suffered crash injuries. This proves that texting while driving led to your crash.
For a successful personal injury claim, the final element you must prove is “damages.” You must show the judge and jury that you suffered financial or emotional losses as a result of the defendant’s negligence. You must also show how extensive your losses are in order to recover compensation.
Some of the damages in a personal injury claim include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages and benefits
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium.
What Is Gross Negligence?
In Texas, gross negligence is defined as an act or omission that carries an “extreme degree of risk” and for which the defendant has “actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved” but proceeds with their actions with disregard for the safety, rights, or welfare of others.
Examples of acts that would be considered grossly negligent include:
- A surgeon operating on the wrong limb
- A truck driver speeding in a location with heavy pedestrian traffic
- A nursing home staff failing to provide food to a resident
- A restaurant owner failing to fix faulty entrance steps despite witnessing many customers fall.
In personal injury claims, gross negligence may warrant punitive damages. Also known as exemplary damages, these damages are awarded in civil trials to punish defendants for their severe misconduct or gross negligence.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
Sometimes, both parties involved in an accident may be at fault. Take a typical car crash that happens on Texas roads. One motorist may have run a red light and slammed into another motorist, who was driving through the intersection while texting. In this case, both parties may have been negligent.
Texas follows modified comparative fault rules when assigning fault in injury cases. Also referred to as ” proportionate responsibility,” the system assigns blame as a percentage to all involved parties.
In Texas, you can sue for damages if your fault for an accident is less than 51%. This is known as the 51 percent bar rule. If your fault is 51% or more, you won’t receive any compensation for your injury case.
What Evidence Can I Use To Prove Negligence?
As a plaintiff, your main task as you try to prove negligence in a personal injury case is to gather and analyze evidence of the defendant’s conduct. Typically, the jury will be responsible for assessing the accused’s breach. You need to show them a clear picture of what happened on that tragic day.
There are many forms of evidence that can help prove negligence in a Texas injury lawsuit, including:
- Medical records
- Party admissions
- Police reports
- Witness testimonies
- Criminal convictions
- Photographs and videos from the scene
- Dashcam footage
- Black box data
- Cellphone records
- Receipts of any out-of-pocket expenses.
After your accident, it’s advisable to document everything that can help bolster your Texas personal injury claim. Take pictures and videos of the scene of the accident or hazardous conditions from various angles and distances. Remember to take as many photos as possible.
Wondering How Do You Prove Negligence in an Injury Case? Find Out Today.
Were you involved in an accident and believe someone else is to blame for your injury and damages? Did your physician’s misdiagnosis injure you? Did another party’s negligence cause your loved one’s wrongful death?
Proving negligence in a Texas injury lawsuit isn’t always straightforward. This process can become complicated when you try to build a case that supports your injury claim. You don’t want to leave it to chance.
Call (512) 732-2727 now to speak to the experienced personal injury lawyers at Evans/Reilley Law Firm. Let us help you understand how the concept of negligence may affect your case.
Get started now to book your free, no-obligation consultation.