Personal injury law generally centers around one extremely important legal concept: negligence. In this context, negligence refers to a defending party’s failure to act in a way that is reasonable. In order to prevail in a negligence case in Louisiana, plaintiffs must prove several important elements. Namely: 1) duty, 2) cause in fact, 3) proximate cause, and 4) damages.
Duty refers to the level of care owed to the plaintiff by the defendant. For example, in a bicycle versus car accident that involves a child bicyclist, the driver of the car will be held to a higher duty of care – compared to a bicycle versus car accident that involves an adult bicyclist. Simply put, the law will see that a reasonable person would be more careful driving in the presence of a child bicyclist than in the presence of an adult bicyclist.
Once duty is established, one must establish that a breach of that duty occurred. In other words, the defendant failed to meet the duty that he or she owed given the situation. Next, cause in fact must be shown. Cause in fact refers to the idea that, if the other party had not failed to meet his or her duty, the defendant would not have been injured.
Next, proximate cause must be shown. This refers to the idea that it was indeed the other party’s failure and not another thing, which resulted in the injury. Let us say, for example, that a motorcyclist gets in accident with a car, and then the motorcycle catches on fire and the motorcyclist is burned. If it is determined that the fire was the result of a defective motorcycle part, and not the accident itself, then the party at fault for the accident may not be liable for the burn injuries. Under the doctrine of proximate cause in this case, the liable party might actually be the motorcycle manufacturer.
Last, but not least, one must establish a financial figure that represents damages in the case. Louisiana residents who have been injured by another party, and have suffered financial damages as a result, may be able to seek compensation in court. By speaking with a qualified personal injury attorney, injured parties can determine the strength and viability of their potential claims in this regard.