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Nathaniel Fick
Nathaniel Fick
Attorney • (410) 321-6000

How Does Negligence Affect a Personal Injury Case?

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When somebody accidentally makes a mistake that causes someone else to get injured, they can be held liable for any damages suffered due to their careless behavior – this is negligence. Someone who may have acted negligently does not set out to injure another person, but their careless actions end up causing harm anyway.

To prove negligence, some specific elements must be present – duty, breach of duty, proximate cause, and damages. If any one element is missing, the case will likely fail.


A duty is established when the law recognizes a relationship between the plaintiff (the person who was injured) and the defendant (the person whose careless behavior resulted in the injury). Because of this relationship, the defendant is required to act with reasonable care, a degree of caution and concern for his safety as well as the safety of others that an ordinary person would use in a similar situation.

Breach of Duty

Once it has been established that the defendant owed a duty of reasonable care to the plaintiff, he is liable for negligence when he breaches that duty by not exercising reasonable care. Rule of thumb: the greater the danger, the greater the caution needed.

Proximate Cause

For a defendant to be held liable, it must be shown that the particular acts or omissions were the cause of the loss or damage sustained. To prove negligence, a plaintiff must establish that the defendant’s actions caused his injury.


Negligence requires proof of actual harm, commonly known as damages, which commonly includes medical bills, property damage, and lost wages sustained because of the accident. To recover, the plaintiff must prove that actual damages were suffered.

Proving Negligence Can be Challenging

Negligence cases can be difficult to prove, and a personal injury attorney will do careful analysis to determine if the case is missing any of the elements discussed above. Damages play an extremely vital role in a negligence case and the plaintiff will not prevail based upon the injury alone.