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Negligence occurs when each of the following elements are present: (i) there is a duty (duty), (ii) the duty is breached (breach), (iii) the breaching of that duty caused the accident (causation), and (iv) damages. In order to prove a prima facie case of negligence all four elements of negligence must be present and be proved.
For example, when there is a car accident, in order to prover liability, it is necessary to show that one of the driver's had a duty to control his or her vehicle to avoid colliding. That is an easy element to prove. If that particular driver rear-ended another vehicle, there would have been a breach of that duty. It is necessary to show that the breach caused the accident (in the case of a rear-end accident, that is fairly easy to do). You may ask yourself "but for the actions of the first driver, the accident wouldn't have occurred?" And finally, damages are required. If there was no damage to the vehicle or person or people inside the front vehicle, there is no case for negligence. If you were the passenger in an on-duty Uber or Lyft, keep in mind that the main principles of this type of negligence are the same as in any other field of personal injury.
To give an example for a fall case, another common type of case for us, say you walk into a restaurant with your family for a meal. The management of the restaurant has the responsibility to keep the establishment free of foreseeable hazards such as a slippery floor. If you walk in and slip and break your neck, the restaurant has breached its responsibility, or duty, and is liable for your injuries. However, if you had been made aware of the slippery floor (a wet floor sign was left in clear sight), and decided to walk on the slippery floor anyways, you may be contributory negligent. In other words, you are unable to make a claim in the District of Columbia, metropolitan area.
Another common example we see and feel is worth illustrating an example of is a medical malpractice case. Of course, it's the duty of the doctor to provide appropriate care to the patient. If it can be proven that the duty being breached caused the damages that materialized, then the doctor can be held responsible for negligence. Often times, these cases can lead to lifelong issues or even death. However, proving negligence can get confusing to some when dealing with informed consent (discussed in detail here). In short, even if the operation is performed perfectly, if it causes damages and the patient never consented to the operation, or consented without full knowledge of the length of the consequences, the doctor can be held liable.
The elements of a negligence case are taught to law students in their first year of law school. However, some lawyers who accept negligence cases on behalf of injured clients, have no or minimal experience handling such claims. It's imperative that you call to discuss your case with an experienced attorney to discuss your options. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia attorney Roger Gelb and his firm have represented over 10,000 clients and have recovered in excess of $100,000,000.00 (one hundred millions dollars) since its founding in 1954. Contact us today for a free consultation.