Understanding the Basics of Negligence in Personal Injury Claims

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When one person or a party wrongfully injures another, the injured party has the right to pursue a legal claim against the responsible party. This personal injury claim seeks to make the injured party “whole” again by compensating the victim for damages caused. However, to succeed with a personal injury claim, the plaintiff, or the party filing the claim, must prove the responsible party was negligent. If you have experienced any kind of personal injury due to another party’s wrongful actions, it is essential to understand the basic elements of negligence as a legal concept and how they apply to your claim.

Duty of Care

A “duty of care” is a duty to act with reasonable care. One example of this duty is driving; everyone who gets behind the wheel owes a duty of care to everyone else on the road. They agree to follow posted traffic signals, operate their vehicles safely, and avoid making dangerous maneuvers. The first element of proving negligence is to establish that the defendant, or wrongdoer, owed a duty of care to the plaintiff in the given situation.

Breach of Duty

The next element for proving negligence is establishing the defendant’s breach of duty, or failure to uphold their duty of care in the given situation. Common examples include drivers operating vehicles under the influence of alcohol, failing to stop at a red light, or speeding. To succeed with a personal injury claim, plaintiffs have to prove potential defendants owed them that duty of care but breached it – a duty another reasonable person in the same situation would have complied with.


After establishing a breached duty of care, the plaintiff in a personal injury claim must then prove that the defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the plaintiff’s claimed damages. The plaintiff’s legal team should offer sufficient evidence to show that the claimed damages would not have happened but for the defendant’s breach of duty. The key here is connecting the breach of duty to injuries suffered – the causal connection.


Finally, to succeed in a personal injury claim, the plaintiff must gather evidence illustrating the full extent of the damages they suffered as the results of defendants’ negligence. Damages in personal injury claims often include medical expenses, property damage, physical/emotional pain and suffering, and lost income.

If you have questions about a personal injury claim or the process of proving negligence in an Oregon civil lawsuit, contact Shlesinger & deVillenueve for a case evaluation with an attorney.




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