What are the Elements of a Negligence Case?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What are the Elements of a Negligence Case?

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

If you want to succeed in a personal injury case, you and your personal injury attorneys need to be able to effectively prove that negligence truly caused your injuries. There are many elements in negligence cases that you should consider before filing a lawsuit, but attorneys can also help you better understand these aspects. The five elements that juries have to examine include Damages, Duty, Breach of Duty, Cause in Fact, and Proximate Cause.


Even if negligence has affected an individual, he or she cannot successfully sue the negligent parties in a personal injury lawsuit if an injury isn’t apparent. Medical records and police reports provide evidence of injuries sustained, and should be readily available in a negligence case.


A judge will usually determine if a defendant owed a duty of care to a victim of negligence, which heavily influences the outcomes of many cases. An example of this would be a caregiver at a nursing home whose negligence caused harm to residents, when they were responsible for the residents’ wellbeing.

Breach of Duty

Determining a breach of duty differs from determining owed duty in that a breach of duty occurs when a defendant fails to exercise reasonable care while fulfilling his or her duties. Breach of duty acknowledges that the defendant owed a duty of care, but normally the jury decides if that duty was fulfilled competently or negligently.

Cause in Fact

Plaintiffs in negligence cases must also prove that a defendant’s actions were directly responsible for injury. Personal injury attorneys and plaintiffs help prove that injuries could have been prevented if not for the defendant’s actions. The concept is often referred to as “but-for” causation. For example, but for a legal guardian’s negligent actions, a child would not have been injured.

Proximate Cause

Negligence cases also require defendants to have been able to foresee the consequences of their actions. When harms caused by defendants fall outside of the zone of acknowledgeable risks, plaintiffs and their personal injury lawyers will not be able to prove proximate causation.

If you want to file a negligence claim, these main elements will help you succeed and recover the maximum amount of compensation. Personal injury attorneys can provide representation that carefully addresses each of these to strengthen your case as much as possible.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by President and Founder, Steven J. Malman who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

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