At The Daspit Law Firm, our Houston personal injury lawyers are committed to helping injured victims and families navigate the personal injury claim process to secure the financial compensation they need to cover damages caused by the negligence of others – including their medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. Because personal injury law can be complex, we wanted to take the time to explain the basis legal elements of a personal injury case. Although every claim is unique, the following elements are always a focus.
- Legal Duty - All personal injury cases exist when there is a legal duty owed by the defendant to the victim. This means that claims must establish this duty first and foremost. Depending on the facts of a case, this duty may involve a driver's obligation to take reasonable steps in safely operating their cars, or a doctor's obligation to treat a patient in accordance to standards accepted of their profession and medical community. Legal duty may exist in various ways, and it must always be present for a claim to have merit.
- Breach – The breach of a legal duty is the second element in a personal injury case, and it must be demonstrated in claims clearly and convincingly, and with the support of evidence. Generally, a legal duty is breached through negligence, meaning that a defendant was careless in some capacity and that their carelessness caused them to fail in upholding whatever obligation they could and should have upheld with reasonable conduct. Driving drunk, for example, is a clear breach of a driver's obligation to operate their vehicle safely - as alcohol intoxication is known widely to be a risky and dangerous act that increases risks of wrecks. Failing to interpret medical exams as any reasonably skillful doctor would have under the same circumstances would also be considered a breach of duty, in the context of medical malpractice.
- Causation – Proving that the breach of duty more likely than not (the burden of proof in civil personal injury cases) caused an accident and injury is one of the most important steps in any injury case. Known as causation, this element requires investigation, evidence, and clear arguments against a defendant. For example, it is a strong argument to state that because a motorist ran a red light (with witnesses or camera footage supporting this claim), they more likely than not caused the wreck that injured the victim.
- Damages – There is no personal injury case if victims pursuing a claim did not suffer actual injuries. For a claim to have any merit at all, victims must show they suffered losses - such as their physical pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost income, and more. These damages are recoverable in personal injury claims, and can be maximized with the help of proven lawyers like those at The Daspit Law Firm.
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