Negligence is the legal basis for most personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. Negligence refers to the failure to meet the accepted standards of care, often resulting in accidents and injuries. Understanding negligence is often necessary to bring a damage claim in Arizona. Your case may involve general negligence, comparative negligence, medical malpractice or other types of negligence.
What Are the Elements of Negligence?
Negligence is the allegation that someone else did not fulfill his or her required duties of care. In Arizona, proof of one person’s negligence in relation to an injury or death could make that person liable, or legally responsible, for the victim’s damages. It is the victim’s burden, however, to prove the defendant’s negligence. This typically requires four elements.
- A duty of care must have existed between you (the plaintiff) and the defendant at the time of the injury. A duty of care can come from a legal requirement or what a reasonable person would do in the same circumstances. A doctor, for example, owes legal duties of care to his or her patients.
- The defendant must have breached or failed to fulfill his or her duties of care. The neglect to meet the standards of care for a situation could make the defendant liable for damages. If a reasonable person would not have committed the same action or omission in the same situation, the defendant might be guilty of a breach of duty.
- A causal link between your injuries or damages and the defendant’s breach of duty must exist. You or your attorney must show through a preponderance of evidence that the defendant’s breach caused your damages. Your lawyer must prove your injury would not have happened but for the negligence of the defendant.
- The defendant’s negligence or recklessness must have given you damages to be eligible for compensation. Compensatory damages can include out-of-pocket costs, medical expenses, lost income, past and future pain and suffering, property damages, and loss of services.
Another type of negligence is comparative. Comparative negligence refers to the plaintiff’s portion of negligence in connection to the accident or injury. In Arizona, a plaintiff can be up to 99% responsible for an accident and still recover some compensation. His or her award will decrease in value, however, in correlation with the degree of fault. Other types of negligence, such as medical negligence, may involve different standards of care for the defendant.
How Is Negligence Proved?
The burden of proof for a negligence case is not the same as a criminal case. During a criminal trial, the prosecution must prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil trial, the plaintiff has the burden to prove the defendant’s fault is more likely to be true than not true. Meeting this burden of proof requires a presentation of evidence that proves the standard of care and the defendant’s breach of this standard.
- Photographs and video footage
- Expert witness testimony
- Eyewitness accounts of the accident
- Medical records
- Accident reports
- Police reports
- Accident reconstruction
- Cellphone records
You or your personal injury lawyer will need to present enough evidence to convince a jury that the defendant did not act with reasonable care under the circumstances and that this is what caused your accident or injuries. Hiring an attorney could help you collect and present evidence of negligence during an injury claim in Arizona.
Talk to an Expert Attorney
The ability to secure compensation for an accident and injury often comes down to whether the plaintiff can prove the defendant’s negligence. If you have grounds for a personal injury claim in Arizona, work with an attorney for assistance collecting evidence and proving the defendant’s fault. A lawyer can help you meet your burden of proof and demonstrate all four elements for a valid claim to damages.