Proving Fault in an Injury Claim

You were hurt in an accident, and now it is time to ask for compensation. You might expect a straightforward insurance claim process. But, like many other injury victims, you might find it is a bit more complicated.

It is up to you to prove someone else was at fault for your injuries. That takes gathering evidence and knowing how to present it to an insurer or court. Instead of struggling to establish your claim while recovering from injuries, work with an experienced personal injury lawyer from Oronoz & Ericsson Injury Lawyers.

You can contact us through our online form or call (702) 878-2889 to set up a free consultation.

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What Do You Need To Prove?

In an injury claim, you are most often going to have to prove negligence to win compensation. To do that, you need enough evidence to establish the following four elements:

  • The other party had a duty of care toward you
  • The other party breached that duty of care
  • The other party’s breach caused the accident
  • You suffered an injury

Duty of Care

A duty of care is a legal obligation to behave a certain way. In most cases, the duty of care is to act reasonably prudent under the same or similar circumstances. Another way to think about it is that most people must act carefully and obey the law to avoid harming others.

The duty of care relevant to your case may vary depending on the law. Also, not every person owes a duty of care toward others. For example, a homeowner owes a duty of care to their guests, but not to a burglar who breaks in to steal expensive belongings. These complexities are why it is essential to work with an experienced attorney.

Breach of Duty

Proving fault involves using evidence to show the other person failed to act carefully. What this looks like depends on the situation. In a car crash, it may be the motorist was speeding and ran a red light. In a slip and fall incident, it may be that a store employee ignored a spill for too long. For a dog bite, it may be the dog’s owner who let it run around without a leash.

Causation

Proving the other person breached their duty of care is not enough to win compensation. You have to show their actions caused the harmful incident.

There are two forms of causation you should be aware of: direct and proximate causation. Direct cause, also known as actual cause or cause, means one person is responsible for the event. For example, a motorist who ran a red light is responsible for t-boning your vehicle in the intersection.

Proximate cause, also known as legal cause, means a person’s conduct is seen as the primary cause of the accident and your injuries under the law – even if it isn’t the only reason the accident happened. To establish proximate cause, you will show what happened was within the foreseeable risks associated with that person’s behavior. It’s foreseeable that a driver who runs a red light would crash into another car.

Proximate cause can become confusing if there’s more than one contributing factor to the accident. If you’re involved in a complex scenario, such as a multi-vehicle pileup, it is best to hire an experienced personal injury attorney.

Proving Fault With Evidence

Proving someone breached their duty of care and caused an accident requires evidence. You may have direct or circumstantial evidence. Direct evidence proves a specific fact. For example, a witness in another vehicle can tell the court how they saw the at-fault motorist drive through the red light and crash into your car.

Circumstantial evidence supports drawing a certain conclusion. A witness might not have seen the accident, but they could testify regarding other facts that would lead to reasonable inference. For example, if you were hurt in a slip and fall at a grocery store, a clerk could testify how workers inspected the store and were instructed to handle spills.

Many people believe circumstantial evidence is weaker than direct evidence. This is not necessarily true. Many injury claims include both types of evidence, and you can recover compensation in a case that heavily relies on circumstantial evidence.

Examples of Evidence in Injury Claims

The evidence relevant to your case depends on the circumstances. It is beneficial to hire a personal injury law firm to independently investigate the accident and gather as much evidence as possible.

Kinds of evidence we have used in injury claims before:

  • Police reports
  • Business incident reports
  • Photos
  • Video footage
  • Medical records
  • Audio recordings
  • Social media evidence
  • Electronic evidence
  • Business records
  • Human resources and employee records
  • Maintenance records
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Expert witnesses

Whether or not we recommend hiring experts depends on what happened and the complexities of your case. Experts are not always necessary. However, they can be accommodating in explaining things to a jury. For example, an accident reconstructionist can use evidence to recreate what happened in a crash in a 2D or 3D model, which we can show to the jury.

How To Use Your Evidence

Using the evidence available to you can be tricky, which is why it is essential to hire an experienced lawyer. At Oronoz & Ericsson Injury Lawyers, we understand how to present evidence that shows how the other party behaved versus how a reasonably prudent person would have behaved. This distinction is how you establish a breach of duty. We set the standard, and then we demonstrate the defendant deviated from that standard.

The next step is proving causation. Sometimes, this is as basic as proving the other person’s presence and actions at the time of the accident. For example, after being hurt in a drunk driving accident, you can use the police report, photos, and eyewitnesses to prove the other person was driving the vehicle that collided with yours. You would also have the chemical test results to prove they were intoxicated at the time.

Can More Than One Person Be at Fault?

Yes, two or more people may be at fault for the accident – including you. When multiple parties may be at fault, Nevada’s modified comparative fault rule applies. A court will decide how much each party is at fault and assign a percentage. If you are 50% or less at fault, you can still receive compensation, but your fault percentage will reduce it.

Don’t Confuse Fault With Liability

Fault refers to the party that directly caused the accident, while liability refers to the legal responsibility to compensate you for your injuries. In many cases, the liable and at-fault party is the same. But this isn’t always true. An experienced personal injury attorney will review your case to determine both fault and liability.

When is someone else liable? It varies. If you were injured in a car crash, you might learn the driver borrowed the vehicle. In that case, the vehicle owner’s insurance may apply. If the driver was working for Uber or Lyft at the time, the rideshare company’s insurance might kick in.

Another common scenario is when you are injured by someone who was working at the time. When an on-duty employee causes harm amid their duties, their employer is usually liable for the injuries.

Contact Us About Your Injury Claim

When you are confident that someone else is responsible for your injuries, talk with our Las Vegas, personal injury attorneys at Oronoz & Ericsson Injury Lawyers. You can reach us at (702) 878-2889 or through our online form. We offer free initial consultations.