Elements of a Personal Injury Claim

Posted On March 4, 2024 / By Manning Law / Personal Injury

If you get injured in an accident that was caused by someone else’s careless or reckless acts, you may have the right to bring a personal injury claim against the at-fault party in Colorado. A personal injury claim is a civil lawsuit that can lead to the recovery of financial compensation by an accident victim. Learning the basic elements of a personal injury claim from our specialized Denver personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether your case has merit.

What Is the Legal Basis for a Personal Injury Claim? 

A personal injury claim can be based on several legal doctrines, including negligence, strict liability, breach of warranty and malicious intent to harm. However, the most commonly used is the legal foundation of negligence.

Proving a personal injury case founded on negligence requires evidence of four elements:

  1. Duty of care: the accused party, known as the defendant, had a legal obligation to the plaintiff or injured party to act with reasonable care.
  2. Breach of duty: the defendant breached the duty of care, meaning he or she committed an act or omission that a reasonably prudent person would not have in the same or similar circumstances.
  3. Causation: the defendant’s breach of duty was the actual or proximate cause of, or a significant contributing factor to, the plaintiff’s injury or damage.
  4. Damages: the plaintiff suffered real, specific and compensable damages because of the defendant’s negligence, such as bodily injuries, medical bills or property damage.

The four elements of negligence must be established based on a preponderance of the evidence for a plaintiff to recover a financial award. This means the elements of a case must be proven as more likely to be true than not true.

What Is the Legal Process Involved in a Personal Injury Claim? 

The majority of personal injury cases in Colorado reach settlements and do not go to trial. This means they are resolved outside of court with an agreement between an insurance company and an accident victim. If you get injured in an accident and believe that someone else is at fault, you can file a claim with that person’s or party’s insurance company.

The insurer will investigate the accident and either accept or reject the claim. If accepted, the value of the settlement offered can be negotiated until it is fair and reasonable based on the extent of your losses. If the insurance company rejects your claim or a reasonable settlement cannot be achieved, your case may need to proceed to trial.

What Happens During a Personal Injury Trial in Colorado?

A personal injury trial starts with the discovery process. The discovery phase of a lawsuit is a period of time where both sides of the case have the opportunity to find and collect evidence, including information that the other side has. This is often done using depositions and interrogatories to obtain information from each other.

Evidence that may be collected for a personal injury claim includes police reports, accident reports, medical records, photographs and videos, witness statements, and expert testimony. During a trial, the plaintiff and defendant will present evidence and witnesses will give testimonies. Then, a judge or jury will decide if the plaintiff met the burden of proof. If so, a judgment award will be issued, which is a payment that the defendant must make to the plaintiff.

For an in-depth review of your specific personal injury case in Colorado and more information about the elements required, contact Manning Law to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.