Elements Of A Negligence Claim In Kentucky
When a negligence claim is brought, the person who brings the suit (known as the Plaintiff) must show that the person being sued (known as the Defendant) was negligent. There are several different elements of a negligence claim. To prove negligence on the part of the Defendant the Plaintiff must show all of the following elements:
- That the Defendant owed a duty to the Plaintiff.
All people owe a duty to everyone else to be reasonably careful. In car accident cases, the law requires drivers to be careful when encountering anyone they meet on the road. This can include: passengers, persons in other vehicles, and pedestrians.
- That the Defendant failed to meet that duty. The Plaintiff must show that the Defendant was not reasonably careful. This is called “breaching” (or violating) the duty of care. In determining whether a driver was sufficiently careful, the law compares the driver’s conduct with the conduct expected of a “reasonable person.” The law asks: How would a reasonable, prudent person have behaved in the same or similar circumstances?
If the defendant’s behavior falls short of how a reasonable person would have acted; the defendant has violated the duty of reasonable care. Examples of conduct expected of a reasonable driver include:
- stopping at a red light
- watching for crossing pedestrians, and
- following the vehicle in front at a safe distance.
- The defendant’s conduct caused plaintiff’s injuries. It is necessary to also show that the defendant’s conduct caused the injuries to the Plaintiff.
For example: Paula is suing Dan, claiming that she suffered whiplash when Dan rear-ended her car. Paula must provide evidence that the whip lash was due to being rear-ended by Dan and not due to some other accident or event. If Paula suffered whiplash the day before the collision while playing golf; she’ll have difficulty establishing that Dan’s conduct — rear-ending Paula’s car — caused her injuries.
- The plaintiff suffered losses and/or was injured. Car accident victims are entitled to compensation for injuries, lost wages or earning capacity, pain and suffering, and property damage (for example, damage to a car). If there aren’t any monetary losses or provable injuries, the plaintiff can’t recover anything. For example, if Paula in the above example doesn’t suffer any physical injury, doesn’t miss any work time because of the accident, and her car sustains no damage, she cannot recover compensation from Dan because there has been no injury or damage.
The plaintiff must show evidence of his or her injuries and other monetary losses to be compensated. If you are the plaintiff, it’s important to keep complete and detailed records of all injuries, medical expenses, and property damage. (For more information on documenting your damages, see Nolo’s article Personal Injury Accidents: Preserve Evidence.)
If you have questions about the elements of a negligence claim or bringing a personal injury claim contact an attorney experienced in personal injury negligence claims as soon as possible after your accident. If you would like to speak with a lawyer with Hurst & Hurst Law, call (859)209-2101.