What is Negligence?

Negligence cases can cover a wide range of conduct and actions the result in harm or loss to the plaintiff.  Basically, negligence covers violations that are the result of unintentional conduct as opposed to intentional violations.  In proving negligence, the following elements must be met:

  • Duty:  The plaintiff needs to prove that the liable party had a duty to uphold a certain standard of care towards them
  • Breach:  The evidence needs to show that the defendant breached this duty of care
  • Causation:  The defendant’s breach must have caused the plaintiff’s losses
  • Damages:  The amount of damages must be readily calculable

Some common types of negligence cases include:  Slip and fall injuries; products liability claims; medical malpractice cases; and auto accident lawsuits.

What are Some Considerations Regarding Evidence in a Negligence Case?

Evidence in a negligence case is easier to understand when it is categorized according to the elements of proof for negligence.  Thus, the evidence can be placed in the following categories:

  • Duty:  The evidence may need to demonstrate what the defendant’s background is.  This is to help determine how much knowledge the defendant had, and therefore, what standards of care they should be subjected to.  For example, evidence may include the defendant’s professional license and practicing history
  • Breach:  The evidence would need to prove that the defendant failed to follow the required standard of care.  This can include eyewitness testimony, and various statements by experts.  Photographs and video footage may also be helpful
  • Causation:  Evidence would need to show that the person actually caused the injury or losses.  This type of evidence can take the form of medical reports from doctors, diagnoses from mechanics, and other documents that show the cause of the injury or property damage.  
  • Damages:  Here the evidence would need show exact dollar amounts of the total losses experienced by the plaintiff.  This can include evidence like hospital bills, mechanic repair receipts, property damage assessments, and pay stubs for lost wages.

Thus, the evidence in a negligence claim tends to follow the elements of proof.  In some cases, certain elements may be much clearer than others.  In fact, some elements may already be established at the beginning of the trial (for example, if the defendant admits to any of the elements).  In that case, the legal proof would revolve around other elements of proof, and may focus only on certain items of evidence.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help Finding Evidence in a Negligence Case?

Evidence in a negligence case is very important for the outcome of the trial.  Generally speaking, the assistance of a qualified lawyer is needed when dealing with trial evidence.  If you have any legal issues or disputes involving evidence for a negligence case, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately.  Your lawyer can help you file a lawsuit, and can assist with the preparation of the evidence for trial.  Evidence rules may vary from state to state, but your attorney can inform you of the laws in your area.