Most successful personal injury and wrongful death claims are founded on negligence, characterized by a breach of duty. To build a winning case on these grounds, here’s what you’ll have to prove.

1. Duty

It is either assumed, as is the case of motorists and those on the road around them, or established, as with doctors and the patients they treat. As long as the other side has some duty of care, you can file a claim.

2. Breach

The following step demonstrates how the other party breached the duty of care owed to you by their actions. That action occurs in an OWI or DUI. Drunk or drugged driving, for example, would result in an incredibly serious breach of duty towards all other drivers around you. In addition, a breach to all customers would be considered by failing to keep commercial premises in a reasonable condition by wiping up spills, for example.

3. Causation

The breach must have been directly responsible for the injuries or wrongful death that occurred. Taking into account the victim’s preexisting condition can make this element relatively challenging to prove. Plaintiffs must establish causality by showing that the defendant’s breach of duty led to the plaintiff’s injuries and losses. Additionally, the defendant must consider whether he or she could have anticipated the possibility that their actions might cause damage.

Causation is established by applying the “but-for” standard, where the defendant is responsible only if the plaintiff’s damages would not have occurred if he had not been negligent. There are two types of causation in the law: cause-in-fact, and proximate (or legal) cause.

4. Damages

The primary purpose of a tort claim is to compensate the plaintiff for his or her losses. As such, you must prove that you incurred quantifiable damages as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty. In the state of Indiana, recoverable damages include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering