Each year, thousands of personal injury claims are filed in the state of West Virginia. In most personal injury cases, claims are settled before a case proceeds to trial. The small percentage of cases that proceed to trial usually are the result of disagreement with regard to liability or the amount of compensation that is offered. Regardless of whether the strategic plan is to settle a lawsuit or take your case to trial, there are certain elements that must be proven in any personal injury case. These four elements consist of a duty, breach, causation, and damages. To determine whether you or your loved one’s injury meet the requirements to bring a claim, contact an experienced attorney at Colombo Law today for a risk-free initial consultation.
Understanding Personal Injury Elements
There are four elements to a personal injury claim in West Virginia: duty, breach, causation, and damages. Below, is an explanation of each of the elements, considering the following example: Driver A is texting while driving and rear ends Driver B at a high speed. Diver B sustains a broken leg for which medical attention is needed. Driver B now has an expensive medical bill and a totaled car.
- Duty: A duty is a legal obligation created by the law or because of a contract between parties. A duty owed by law requires the person who owes the duty to act in a reasonable manner and in compliance with the law. Using the example above, Driver A owes Driver B a duty while traveling on the roadway because of laws in West Virginia requiring drivers to conform to certain requirements.
- Breach: Breach occurs when the person who owes a duty fails to comply with the basic standard of care. Driver A failed to conform with the law, prohibiting texting while driving.
- Causation: Causation is the legal avenue for proving that the actions the taken caused you some sort of harm. The harm can be physical or emotional. Driver B must also show that Driver A caused her medical expenses and motor vehicle loss as a result of the rear-end collision.
- Damages: Damages are the injuries that result because of the breach. Damages can be to your person or property. In the example above, Driver B sustained damages of unintended medical expenses and motor vehicle losses.
Causation is Important in Personal Injury Claims
Many individuals focus on only two elements of a personal injury claim: duty and damages. The reason for this is people tend to fixate on the person responsible for payment of money. While determining and holding the business owner accountable is important and a question in every personal injury case, it is not the only step. A personal injury claim will not be successful unless an injured party can prove that the injury suffered was the direct result of the breach that occurred. Even if an injured party can successfully assert that a duty was present and a breach occurred, the claim will not be successful if they cannot show that their injuries were caused by the breach. Although causation is often overlooked this element is essential because if this part of the claim fails, monetary compensation will not be awarded.
Questions? Contact Us Today
If you or your loved one has been injured in an accident or incident and have questions regarding filing a personal injury claim, contact Colombo Law today for assistance.