Thousands of civil lawsuits are filed each year in Minnesota. Many of those lawsuits are personal injury cases. Whether it is based on a motor vehicle accident or a dog bite – or any of a number of other potential causes – personal injury lawsuits typically have some common elements in play.
First, plaintiffs in these lawsuits will likely become familiar with the following terms: “duty”; “breach”; “causation”; and “damages.” These are commonly referred to as the basic elements of a personal injury lawsuit, which falls under the “tort” area of law. When pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, these elements must be proved by the plaintiff who files the case.
Elements of the case
For starters, “duty” refers to some obligation that existed between the parties in the case. For example, all drivers have a duty to operate their motor vehicles safely on the roadways. Failure to do so, typically because of negligence or recklessness, could lead to a lawsuit. Distracted driving, for instance, would usually be considered negligence. And, the failure to abide by the duty owed is where the “breach” element comes into play. Failure to perform or abide by the duty owed is the “breach” in question.
However, it is not enough for a defendant to have breached a duty as outlined in a personal injury lawsuit. The breach of the duty must also directly cause the injuries that the plaintiff claims to have suffered in the accident. If this link isn’t made, the personal injury claim may not hold water. But, if it does, the final element is “damages,” meaning that the plaintiff must prove the damages suffered because of the defendant’s negligent or reckless conduct. Medical bills usually make up the bulk of the damages, but there can be other expenses as well, such as lost wages from work.