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Proving Negligence In Personal Injury Cases

September 13, 2017 |

Unfortunately, accidents happen and tend to be inevitable. If you have been injured due to the negligence of someone else and want to file a personal injury claim, it’s important to prove that all of the elements are in place. The elements prove that the defendant was negligent and that his or her actions caused the plaintiff’s injury. Additionally, to be successful in your lawsuit, you must prove that you suffered damages. In this case, the damages would be an injury. Here are the elements of a negligence case.


In many negligence cases, the outcome depends on whether the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff. The law recognizes that there is a relationship between the defendant and plaintiff where the defendant is expected to act a certain way toward the plaintiff. In a personal injury case, the judge is the one who determines whether there was a duty of care owed to the plaintiff by the defendant. For example, if the plaintiff is a patient and the defendant is a doctor, the defendant owes the plaintiff a duty of being obligated to provide them with reasonable and competent medical care.

Breach of Duty

When a defendant breaches the duty owed to the plaintiff, he or she can be held responsible for negligence. The defendant breaches their duty by not providing reasonable care or by not acting in a reasonable manner, which leads to the plaintiff suffering injuries. The jury is responsible for deciding whether a defendant breached a duty to the plaintiff.

Cause In Fact

Cause in fact means that the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s actions directly caused his or her injury. This is also commonly known as “but for” causation. It means that if not for the actions of the defendant, the plaintiff never would have suffered an injury.

Proximate Cause

Proximate cause is the level of responsibility of the defendant in a negligence case. This means that the defendant in a negligence case is only responsible for any harm that he or she could have foreseen happening as a result of his or her actions. If the extent of damages that occurred is outside the defendant’s scope, the plaintiff would not be able to prove that the defendant’s actions caused his or her damages or injury.


In any negligence case, the plaintiff must prove that they were injured. That means that merely proving that the defendant did not exercise reasonable care is not enough to prove negligence. The failure to exercise reasonable care must result in real damages caused to the plaintiff, to whom the defendant owed a duty of care.

If you believe you have a personal injury case because of someone else’s negligence, it’s important to hire a skilled attorney to represent you. Our Wisconsin personal injury lawyers at Cannon & Dunphy are dedicated to helping individuals seek compensation for the damages they have sustained.

Contact our legal team to protect your rights.

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