Liability in a Personal Injury Case

Personal Injury Claims & Liability

If you’ve been in an accident in Missouri, you may be eligible to receive full compensation for medical bills, time off of work, and other damages against the defendant or negligent party if you file a personal injury claim. The goal of a personal injury lawyer—like those at The Dixon Injury Firm in St. Louis—is to prove liability, or its opposite (negligence), and to provide enough evidence for a court to say that the defendant acted negligently against the plaintiff.

Continue reading to learn more or call (314) 208-2808 with your personal injury questions.

What Does “Negligence” Mean?

Put simply, negligence occurs when someone fails to exercise reasonable care. Negligence is the key to winning an insurance claim. There are obvious cases where a defendant failed to act appropriately, resulting in an injury, and there are less obvious ones where the victim may have been at partial fault.

Here’s a rundown of legal concepts courts use to determine negligence:

  • What is the “Duty of Care”?—A duty refers to legal responsibility. As citizens, we are held to a certain level of expected behavior. As an example, mopping your restaurant’s floor without putting up a “Wet Floor” sign would be neglecting your duty to protect your customers and staff.
  • What is a “Breach”?—A breach is when the negligent party fails to act. Or, put another way, they fail to fulfill their duty of care responsibly. This goes both ways in terms of failing to act as well as acting negligently.
  • What Does “Causation” Mean?—A store owner, for instance, has a legal duty to block off a dangerous area and have it repaired. When that duty is breached, causation is the incident caused by the negligent party that led to someone getting hurt. Running a red light instead of stopping is another example.
  • What are “Damages”?—Damages are the side-effects or symptoms of a negligent party causing damages due to breaching their duty. The victim’s “damages” can be monetary as well as physical or mental. An example of damages is the cost of medical bills related to the accident.

How Do I Show & Then Prove Negligence?

When you file an insurance claim, your main goal is going to be to show the negligence occurred, leading to your accident and subsequent injuries. You do this by providing evidence to the insurer, such as an auto or homeowners insurance company. You’ll need to send enough documentation alongside a demand letter that demonstrates your seriousness about the claim. This includes witness statements, police accident reports, medical bills and records, a history of the event, and any other financial pressures that resulted from the accident. Once you’ve provided enough evidence to prove that the insurance company’s client was negligent, they’ll either accept, ignore, decline, or submit a counteroffer to your claim.

If you’re able to show negligence, you may be able to settle a claim quickly but not to its full amount. This is when you will need to call a personal injury lawyer that can help you negotiate or, if it comes to it, help you fight your claim in court. In court, this is called proving negligence. At this point, you’re proving to the court that your evidence is admissible.

What is Liability?

Like negligence, the liable party is the one who caused or allowed the injury to happen. If the proof you send to the insurer is strong enough, the odds of you getting a quick and fair settlement are much higher. If, for example, a drunk driver ran off the road and struck your parked car, that’s a pretty clear-cut example of who the liability belongs to. If it is unclear who is liable, or if there is split liability, it’s time to hire a personal injury lawyer that can help you deal with insurers or in court.

Personal Injury Law

Personal injury law includes torts or civil claims between an injured victim and a negligent party. The most common personal injury cases involve:

  • Car Accidents
  • Slips and Falls
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Dog Bites
  • Wrongful Death
  • Premises Liability