Negligence – The Burden of Proof in a Personal Injury Claim

When it comes to accident and personal injury claims, one of the first things the plaintiff needs to do is prove fault in the injury. In other words, negligence, on behalf of the defendant, needs to be proven in order for the case to move forward.

In a court of law, there are four primary elements to consider when proving negligence:

  1. Duty of Care
  2. Breach of Duty
  3. Causation
  4. Damages

Even though your personal injury lawyer has a comprehensive understanding of proving negligence, it is always a good idea to develop a more in-depth understanding of them.

Duty of Care

This is the obligation everyone has to avoid injuring someone else or putting them in a position where they can easily become injured. The key lies in establishing to whom the obligation or duty of care is owed and how broad is that duty.

Unfortunately, the letter of law is often limited and doesn’t define every condition or situation in which one person, business, or organization is obligated to others or how they are obligated to do so.

It is understood that grocery stores have some duty of care to the customers they serve. The specifics of these obligations or how the grocery store should carry them out, though, are not defined. What is described is the responsibility of the grocery store in question to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of its customers.

The problem is that reasonable is often a matter of interpretation. And what is reasonable to one person may not be to another.

Breach of Duty

Once you’ve recognized the duty of care in the injury, the next step becomes to determine whether the person owing the duty lived up to the expectation. When they are found to have failed in that endeavor, the law considers that failure to be an act of negligence.

What this means, legally speaking, is that the person in question failed to take reasonable action to prevent an accident or created an environment in which an accident or injury was likely to happen.

In some instances, a breach of duty is easy to ascertain. For instance, in cities that have red light cameras it’s easy to determine if someone ran a red light when getting into an action at the intersection. At the same intersection without a red light camera, it can become a matter of finger pointing unless there were witnesses to the accidents that can verify the claim of one driver over another.


Once duty of care and breach of duty have been established, you have generally provided reasonable proof that the person is responsible for the injury. However, there are some circumstances in which the person may claim that despite the breach of duty, that negligence either had no role, or was not the sole cause of the accident or injury.

Back to the red light. If it was proven that the driver of one car ran the red light that doesn’t mean that the driver of the other car doesn’t bear some responsibility – especially if he or she, too, ran the red light by anticipating a green light and jumping the gun.


The law makes it possible for victims to receive damages for their physical and emotional injuries, property damage, and loss of income resulting from an accident. These things should be factored in to any settlement you consider accepting and shouldn’t be done without the assistance of a Los Angeles personal injury attorney working on your behalf.

The Law Officers of Jacoby and Meyers is here to help you with all your personal injury questions and concerns. Contact us today and let us help you get the settlement you deserve.