When a motor vehicle collision has occurred on a Missouri roadway, or someone has slipped on a wet floor in a grocery store, or a defective product fails to work as it should, severe injuries may result. In many cases, incidents that result in injuries may have been preventable had it not been for another person’s negligence. State law allows a recovering victim to seek restitution for damages by filing a personal injury claim in civil court.
The plaintiff in a personal injury claim must convince the judge or jury that the defendant is accountable for damages. In a successfully litigated case, the court may order the defendant to pay compensation, sometimes for the maximum amount allowed under state law. In all personal injury cases, a plaintiff must prove that certain elements exist.
Duty of care and failure to fulfill duty
The court must be convinced that a defendant in a personal injury claim owed the plaintiff a duty of care, which means the defendant held a responsibility to act or not act in a certain manner to keep the plaintiff safe. For example, intentionally running a red light is a breach of duty to maintain safety while driving. These two elements must exist to win a legal judgment in an injury case.
Cause in fact, proximate cause and damages
Cause in fact is phrase referring to a defendant’s negligence. A plaintiff must not only prove that a defendant failed in a duty of care, but also that this failure or negligence was a direct cause of the injuries that occurred. Proximate cause means the defendant understood that his or her actions could cause injury to the plaintiff, and damages may include physical injury, property damage, emotional trauma and economic distress. An experienced attorney can help a prospective plaintiff determine whether all five elements exist in a particular case.