Being injured due to the negligence of another individual can be a complex and overwhelming experience. In order to successfully file a personal injury claim in Washington, there are certain elements that must be proven. Understanding these elements is key for any individual considering filing a personal injury claim.
If you were injured due to someone else's negligence, our Spokane personal injury lawyer at West Law Office can assist you with your claim. We can help you gather the necessary evidence to prove all four elements and ensure that you receive the compensation to which you are entitled.
Four Elements of a Personal Injury Claim
Let's take a closer look at the four elements of a personal injury claim.
- Duty of Care
The duty of care is the legal obligation an individual or business has towards another party. This duty may come from common law, statutes, regulations, or contracts. The duty of care must exist between both parties before any other element may be considered by the court. To determine if a duty exists, courts use tests such as reasonable foreseeability and proximity.
- Breach of Duty
Once it is determined that a duty of care existed between both parties, it must then be established that this duty was breached through negligent behavior or action on behalf of one party. This breach can result from errors in judgment or action by the party responsible for fulfilling the duty of care—for example, failing to exercise reasonable care when driving on public roads.
The third element an injured individual must prove is causation. In other words, it must be proven that the breach caused harm to another person or property. Causation requires evidence showing that if not for the act committed by one party, then no harm would have occurred to another party—known as “but for” causation. Additionally, there needs to be proof highlighting how much harm was caused due to this breach—known as “proximate cause” or “legal cause” causation.
Finally, an injured individual must demonstrate damages incurred as a result of their injuries and provide evidence showing the total amount requested in damages represents an appropriate sum for what was lost due to their injuries. Damages may include medical expenses, lost wages due to time away from work while recovering from injuries sustained during an incident where negligence was involved, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and punitive damages (if applicable).
Note: Keep in mind that Washington follows the pure comparative fault doctrine under RCW 4.22.005, which means the injured party's damages can be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault.
Contact West Law Office for Legal Help
Navigating a personal injury claim can be difficult without understanding all four necessary elements—duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages—that must be proven in order for an injured individual to receive compensation from court proceedings or settlements outside court proceedings.
If you are considering filing a personal injury claim in Washington, contact West Law Office to discuss your case with our knowledgeable attorney. Our Spokane personal injury attorney can explain each element thoroughly to make sure that you are well-informed about your potential case. Call 509-993-0748 for a free case evaluation.