Personal Injury

A field of broad scope, personal injury law covers a variety of cases in which one party is responsible for harming the other. As one might imagine, financial compensation rests upon the plaintiff’s ability to prove that the liable party is blameworthy. While straightforward in concept, however, this step can sometimes become extremely difficult to execute.

Determining fault

More often than not, the concept of negligence is used to prove fault in personal injury cases. As the Columbia personal injury attorneys of the Goings Law Firm, LLC explain, negligence is formally defined as conduct that: 1) falls below the standard of care expected of a reasonable person and 2) causes harm to another person. The following legal elements are often used to establish negligence:

  • Duty: the plaintiff must be owed a legal duty by the defendant in every personal injury claim. For example, all automobile drivers owe a duty to look out for other drivers on the road.
  • Breach: the plaintiff must prove that the defendant breached a legal duty.
  • Causation: the defendant must be the direct cause of the plaintiff’s harm or injuries. Pre-existing injuries cannot be attributed to new events unless they were worsened/exacerbated by recent occurrences.
  • Damages: the plaintiff must incur actual damages (monetary or physical) as a result of the incident. This usually entails expenses such as medical bills, lost income, property damage, etc.


Of course, fault isn’t always established by proving negligence. On occasion, lawyers will attempt to prove fault by establishing intentional conduct, proving “negligence per se,” or showing that the claim is subject to the “strict liability” standard of proof. In the last case, plaintiffs need only demonstrate that they suffered an injury that was “foreseeable” in a qualifying circumstance. Given the technical nature of proving fault, injured parties are advised to seek the help of an experienced lawyer when filing their claim.

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