How Negligence Is Proven In Personal Injury Claims
A personal injury claim grounded in negligence will not result in an award of damages unless four aspects can be successfully proven in court:
- - The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care.
- - The defendant's behaviour failed to meet a set standard of care.
- - The plaintiff suffered some damage.
- - The plaintiff's damage was caused by the defendant's breach.
Each of those aspects must be proven in court. In civil (non-criminal) cases, each aspect of the case must be proven on a balance of probabilities, which means that the judge or jury decides that it is more likely than not that the thing to be proved occurred.
Our Edmonton personal injury lawyers may be able to answer your questions about how negligence is proven in personal injury claims.
Different Types of Evidence
In personal injury law cases, evidence is typically presented to the court in one of two ways:
- - Oral testimony is presented to the court by a witness to an event. A witness can talk about what they saw, heard, or otherwise experienced first-hand. Only a person who is deemed an expert on a subject can testify about their opinion on a subject.
- - Documentary evidence can include photos, videos, receipts, bank statements, emails, and contracts. In a personal injury case, common documentary evidence may include medical test results and receipts for physiotherapy.
In some circumstances, evidence is presented to the court in the form of an affidavit. Instead of giving evidence orally in the courtroom, the witness transcribes their statement and swears it is true in front of a lawyer. Affidavits are not used in trial unless the judge determines that the case is suitable to be heard under the summary trial rules. This procedure is generally used for more straight-forward cases that do not involve conflicting evidence.
It is very common for personal injury plaintiffs to hire experts to give evidence. There are several aspects of a personal injury claim that often require the opinion of a medical expert. The plaintiff can generally give evidence about the incident or accident itself and the effects of the damages on the plaintiff's life.
Duty and Standard of Care
A duty of care owed by the defendant to the plaintiff is proven by showing a relationship between the parties. For example, a driver on the highway owes a duty of care to other drivers and passengers on the road. A doctor owes a duty of care to their patient. An occupier of premises owes a duty of care to visitors. Duties of care have been established in many common situations, but novel situations may occur that require more in the way of proof.
A person who owes a duty of care must behave as a reasonable person in that position. What that entails will depend on the circumstances. A driver, for example, should follow the rules of the road. In a medical malpractice case, the standard of care, and whether the defendant's behaviour breached that standard of care, is usually proven through the use of expert evidence, because what a medical professional should have done in a given situation is a matter of opinion. However, it is possible that expert evidence may not be required.
Contact Our Edmonton Personal Injury Lawyers Today for a Consultation
Each case is unique, and the process of proving a party's negligence can vary. Our Edmonton personal injury lawyers would be happy to address your questions, and see how negligence might be proven in your personal injury claim. For more information and to speak with our personal injury lawyers, contact us to schedule a consultation today.
*Please be advised, the information in this article does not constitute legal advice. It is an introductory overview of a legal topic. For specific legal advice, please contact a lawyer.