Car or trucking accident injury lawsuits — indeed, any kind of personal injury lawsuits — fall under a legal category known as tort law. Most generally, tort law is intended to compensate people who have been harmed physically, mentally or financially by another person’s wrongdoing. If you’re considering actually filing a lawsuit or seeking car accident compensation, then discussing your case with qualified accident injury attorneys is the best course of action. But to help get your research going, here’s a brief summary of the elements of a tort law case:
- Establishing the Defendant’s Legal Duty
The first step in any tort legal case is proving that the defendant had some sort of legal duty (the defendant is the person against whom the case is brought; the plaintiff is the person who files the lawsuit). In some cases, this legal duty is established by well-known laws and guidelines. Employers, for example, are required to follow certain workplace safety standards. But sometimes, that duty is a more general one. Drivers, for example, are required to drive with the “duty of reasonable care” in addition to following explicit driving laws.
- Proving the Defendant Breached That Duty
The next step is to prove that the defendant violated (“breached”) his or her legal duty. Tort law covers both cases of intentional harm and negligence, but the latter is more common in personal injury law. In a car accident case, for example, accident injury attorneys would attempt to prove that the defendant was negligent by not taking the care that a reasonable driver would take. So not stopping at a red light, not watching for pedestrians or cyclists, or following a car too closely could all fall under negligence.
- Showing Evidence of Harm to the Plaintiff
The final element of a case is to show that the plaintiff suffered a loss as a direct result of the defendant’s action or inaction. The harm to the plaintiff might be physical, such as a broken leg suffered in a car accident, but emotional harm may also be taken into account when financial compensation (called “damages”) is decided. The purpose is to compensate the victim both for quantifiable losses, such as the medical bills and lost wages associated with an injury, and harm that is more difficult to calculate the value of, such as the stress an extended recovery process puts on a family.
Does this answer your questions about the basic structure of a tort law case? Ask other questions you’d like accident injury attorneys to answer in the comments.