When someone suffers injury in a Missouri accident or other situation, they may have grounds to seek financial recovery for damages. To do so, litigation must occur in civil court. This is known as filing a personal injury claim. The defendant in such a case would be the person (or people) whom the plaintiff claims was responsible for their injuries.
The plaintiff in a personal injury claim, must prove that four elements existed when the injury occurred. If a plaintiff does not prove these elements, there can be no financial recovery. Such litigation is complex and highly stressful, which is why most plaintiffs ask experienced attorneys to act on their behalf in court.
Each personal injury claim must prove these elements
These elements must be formally established by a plaintiff in a personal injury claim:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.
- There was a breach of said duty (i.e., negligence).
- The defendant’s negligence caused the incident.
- The plaintiff suffered physical, emotional or economic damages.
Determining whether these elements existed when an injury occurred is not always easy. For instance, an off-duty physician in a restaurant who does not offer to help in an emergency does not have a duty of care to provide medical support.
A basic phrase that helps determine whether negligence occurred
If the phrase “Were it not for” the defendant’s actions or omission of action, the accident that caused the injury would not have occurred applies to a particular case, it will help establish negligence. For example, were it not for a driver’s intoxication, he or she likely would not have veered into another lane and hit a car. A personal injury attorney can structure a client’s case to ensure that all four elements will be clearly demonstrated.