A Guide to the 4 Elements of Negligence

November 12, 2020
red car accident

Most personal injury claims are brought on the basis of negligence. Characterized by a failure to act with reasonable care, negligence has four critical elements.

In order to have grounds for a claim, you’ll have to prove that the liable party owed you a duty of care, breached said duty, and caused you damages in the process. Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements so you know what it takes to build a strong personal injury claim:

1. A Duty of Care

A duty of care is essentially an obligation that one party has toward another party to exercise a reasonable level of care given the circumstances. For example, when you see a physician in a clinical setting, you establish a doctor/patient relationship, and your provider has a duty to follow the most widely accepted standard of care. 

Likewise, when you get behind the wheel, you have an obligation to those in traffic around you to follow the rules of the road. If you were to drive while drunk, drowsy, or distracted, you would be violating an implied duty of care to everyone in the vicinity.

A duty of care may also arise when a person undertakes to act even when they otherwise would not have had a duty. 

2. A Breach of Duty

You will not have grounds for a claim unless the party that owed you a duty of care breached it in some way. For example, did your doctor fail to provide adequate follow-up care after a surgical procedure? Did a drunk driver strike your vehicle while you were waiting at a stoplight? Did the staff at a store fail to clean up a spill that they knew about (or should have known about)?  Without a breach of duty, there is no actionable claim for negligence.

3. Causation

The third element of every successful claim founded on negligence is causation. In order to prove causation, you’ll have to demonstrate how you wouldn’t have gotten hurt but for the liable party’s actions.

While this may seem simple enough, issues can arise along the way. For example, medical records can help show a link between the accident and your injuries, but there could still be reason to challenge your claim if you happen to have any related preexisting conditions.

4. Damages

The fourth and final element of every successful personal injury claim is damages. You must have incurred actual losses as a direct and proximate result of the liable party’s negligence.

In South Carolina, personal injury claimants can seek compensation for both the economic and non-economic damages that they incur. Examples include:

  • Medical bills;
  • Lost wages and benefits;
  • Loss of future earnings;
  • Property repairs;
  • Home and vehicle modifications;
  • Alternative transportation;
  • Domestic help;
  • Reasonably necessary replacement services;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Depression;
  • Anxiety;
  • Disfigurement;
  • Sexual dysfunction;
  • Psychological trauma;
  • Mental anguish; and
  • Loss of enjoyment in life.

Call 864-585-3873 to Discuss Your Case with a South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney

If you were seriously hurt through no fault of your own, contact Hodge & Langley Law Firm. Our tireless team takes great pride in helping the injured recover the compensation they need to move on with life. Call 864-585-3873 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer in South Carolina.



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