Personal injury law covers many different situations and provides the opportunity for an injured person to sue another person at fault for those injuries. If you have suffered an injury as the result of another person’s actions, or because someone else failed to take precautions to prevent injury, you may be able to take legal action to recover damages. But what does your Rhode Island personal injury lawyer need to do to prove your claim?

Personal injury cases are handled in civil court and include a lesser burden of proof than in criminal cases. Civil penalties generally take the form of monetary damages paid to the injured party and may include past and future medical costs, pain and suffering, emotional distress compensation, and lost income. A personal injury claim requires evidence specific to the claim and requires that the plaintiff prove that more likely than not that the defendant was negligent. Elements that your lawyer must prove to win your case include:

  1. Legal duty: A legal duty of care is a legal obligation to act with a certain level of care and caution. Everyone has a duty to act with reasonable care anytime they act in a way that might foreseeably harm another person.
  2. Breach of legal duty: If the defendant who had a legal duty fails to satisfy the legal obligation, the defendant has breached his/her duty. This element is typically proven by comparing the defendant’s behavior to reasonable person. If the defendant didn’t use as much caution as a reasonable person would generally have used, he/she probably breached the duty of care.
  3. Direct/proximate causation: The plaintiff must show that the defendant’s act was the direct/proximate cause of his/her injury. In other words, whatever the defendant did either directly caused the injury to the plaintiff, or was a factor in whatever caused the injury.
  4. Damages: The plaintiff must prove damages which may include, but are not limited to, pain and suffering, lost income, and medical costs.

As an example, the driver of a tractor trailer truck hauling a large piece of machinery owes a legal duty to other drivers on the freeway to be careful.  If the truck driver fails to strap down the machinery and it falls off the truck, landing on a passing car and injuring the driver of the car, he breached his legal duty. His failure to strap down the machinery was the direct cause of the injury, and damages are presumed in this case. Thus, a personal injury claim could be made based upon the negligence of the truck driver.

If you have been injured, you should contact a qualified Rhode Island personal injury lawyer to advise you on your options. Personal injury claims can be complex, involving witnesses, documents, red tape and a lot of time and can be difficult to navigate on your own.

To find out more about personal injury law, click here.