Recently our Denver personal injury blog discussed the concept of the “duty of care” that adults behind the wheel owe to children on bicycles. Establishing a duty of care – and the breach of that duty – are essential to proving fault as part of a claim that someone else’s negligence caused your injuries and losses. Just what are all of the elements in a negligence claim?
Establishing a duty of care means showing that the person you’re suing owed it to you to act with a certain level of responsibility and competence. Drivers owe a duty of care to others on the road, as we discussed previously, and they owe a special duty of care to children on bikes. Another example may be a surgeon who owes a duty of care to a patient on whom he or she is operating. It must then be demonstrated that that duty of care was breached, meaning that the average person with the same amount of information would have known not to do what the negligent person did.
With those two elements established, one must show that the injury or loss was a result of the breach of duty. A negligent surgeon may amputate a finger on the left hand instead of the right hand, for example, but could not likely be held responsible for that patient later developing an unrelated medical condition like diabetes or cancer. Similarly, a driver’s negligence must be tied directly into the car accident and the injuries for which compensation is sought.
Finally, it’s necessary to establish the amount of damages which the victim should receive. While a legal professional’s assistance is often valuable during the first three elements, it can prove particularly vital during this phase. Just because a judge or jury recognizes the duty owed, the breach of duty and causation, does not necessarily mean they will recognize the same extent of losses you are claiming. This review is provided not as specific legal advice, but as a general background on negligence as it relates to car accidents.