When to File a Negligence Lawsuit?

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We all wish we had superhuman powers to protect ourselves and loved ones from danger. Yet, no matter our efforts, it is impossible to lead an active and long life unscathed.

Without the existence of otherworldly powers, life is risky, and negligence is inevitable. We all will endure some pain and suffering caused by the hands of another.

If you incur severe injuries from negligent acts of another, get to know your legal rights. Learn the value of presenting the burden of proof to improve your odds of winning.

It is essential to recognize when it is time to contact a law firm and speak to a qualified lawyer to file a claim.

What is Negligence?

Negligence is a type of personal injury lawsuit. When a person acts carelessly, causing injury to another, they are legally liable for it. You must show a failure to meet a reasonable duty of care to prove who is at fault.

Besides illustrating proof of negligence, you must find an excellent personal injury attorney to help with your case.

When to File a Negligence Claim and the Evidence You Need

Under personal injury law, there are two key elements that you need to prove fault and damage. The courts place the burden of proof on the person making a claim (plaintiff/Injured party).

To prove that your injuries are caused by the negligence of a person or company, you need proper evidence. If you file a negligence claim, the items of evidence you may need depend on the circumstances.

4 Essential Elements to Prove Negligence

To win a negligence case, the plaintiff must prove, without a doubt, who was at fault and acted negligently. Using the four elements will help with establishing the defendant is the one at fault.

  1. Duty

The outcome of some negligence cases looks at whether the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff. (Example: A parent’s responsibility to their child or an employer's obligation to their employee).

  1. Breach

Proving duty is simply not enough to win a case. The plaintiff must prove it is the defendant who provided no legal duty.

  1. Causation

The plaintiff must prove that the defendant could foresee the possible danger. Even with having this knowledge, they went ahead with the action, causing the injuries.

  1. Damages

Prove that it was the defendant’s actions that caused the plaintiff’s health problems. It is not enough to show a failure to exercise reasonable care. You must further prove the injuries came from a lack of reasonable care to whom the defendant owed.

Avoid taking too much time to collect evidence. Submitting your personal injury claim needs to occur within the appropriate time frame.

Examples of Evidence for a Negligence Case

Gather evidence that relates to your claim, proving negligent behavior of another. Here are a few examples of evidence.

  • A police report documenting the events.
  • An incident report provided by a business or building worker.
  • Any eyewitness statements that verify the details of your injuries.
  • Several photographs that might help document the cause of your injury.
  • Health records of all medical treatments related to your injury. i.e., emergency services, hospital visits, and therapists. Show documentation of the cost for each, if any.
  • Forms showing your inability to work because of the injuries resulting in a loss of wages.
  • Testimony from medical professionals treating your injury.

Once you know what evidence you need to show for the burden of proof, learn what kind of negligence claim to file. Discuss the case type further with your lawyer.

4 Distinct Kinds of Negligence Cases

Below are a few forms of negligence. Note - not all U.S. states adhere to the same negligence laws. Check to learn more about your state's laws as they will influence the outcome of your legal case.

1. Gross Negligence

Gross negligence is when a person or business acts with total disregard for proper care. This negligence has the potential to cause severe damage to persons and possessions.

Example of Gross Negligence: Driver's Negligence

  • Cause of action: Car accident due to speeding
  • Typical liable party: At-fault driver
  • Type: Gross Negligence
  • Form of Compensation: Insurance Claim/Civil Lawsuit
  • Potential injuries or damage: Car accident causing:
  • Whiplash
  • Burns and scars
  • Paralysis
  • Head injuries
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
  • Concussions
  • Loss of limbs
  • Severe cuts
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Joint, muscle, back, neck, knee, and bone injuries
  • Permanent disability

2. Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence is when the plaintiff fails to exercise care for their own safety. This negligence bars the plaintiff from receiving any compensation. Their contribution can be as little as 1% at fault for the damages. If the injured party raised the likelihood of the incident, they would not get a settlement.

Example of Contributory Negligence: Property Owners' Negligence

  • Cause of action: Slip and fall with a warning sign “Wet Floor” visible but ignored.
  • Typical liable party: The property owner and the plaintiff
  • Type: Contributory Negligence
  • Form of Compensation: None
  • Potential injuries or damage:
  • Injuries can come from an infinite amount of actions, decisions, and situations. If the plaintiff is partially at fault for their hurt, the law considers it contributory negligence.

3. Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is tort law. It is similar to contributory negligence with one essential difference.

Comparative negligence will compensate the injured party even when partially responsible. Contributory negligence is the total amount of any compensation for the plaintiff.

Example of Comparative Negligence: Car Crash Negligence (when both parties are liable)

  • Cause of action: Lily turned left at an intersection on a red light. She hit Sally's car, who was speeding.
  • Typical liable party: Both parties are at fault. (Lily and Sally)
  • Type: Comparative Negligence
  • Form of Compensation: If the courts find the plaintiff 30% at fault, they can still receive 70% of compensation. Even if the plaintiff is 99% responsible for the accident, he or she can recover 1% of the damages. However, they will be accountable or for 30%.
  • Potential injuries or damage:
  • Wounds and damages can come from a vast amount of actions, decisions, and situations. If multiple people are at fault, both will receive a settlement depending on their percentage of fault.

4. Vicarious Liability

Vicarious liability is a form of strict law. It pertains to holding one person liable for the actions of another when engaged in a joint activity.

Example of Vicarious Liability: Employers Negligence by Employee Actions (or Inaction)

  • Cause of action: If a building worker mishandles a crane which causes a wall to fall, creating damage. The organization overseeing the construction will encounter vicarious liability for the losses.
  • Typical liable party: The company that employs the worker who caused the accident.
  • Type: Vicarious Negligence
  • Form of Compensation: All injured parties can sue the person's employer for compensation.
  • Potential injuries or damage: When two or more people cause injury during a collective activity.


In times of trauma and pain, it can cause uncertainty and confusion. As you prefer to put your energy into the efforts of healing, you must not overlook who caused the pain. It is up to you to hold them responsible for your suffering.

Figure out if you have enough of the key elements to prove at-fault. If unsure, contact an attorney to learn whether you can sue now or need to collect more evidence first. Personal injury lawyers can determine if your case is solid. If it is not yet up to par, turn to your lawyer to help build a winning case.

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Main Office: 200 E. Robinson St. Suite #400, Orlando, Florida 32801. Attorney Jeffrey Kaufman, Licensed in Florida Disclaimer: the purpose of this site is to provide information about legal options, not to provide legal or professional advice. You should not assume that the information on this site applies to your case without consulting with an attorney first. Requesting an initial consultation does not create an attorney client relationship. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be solely based on advertisement.

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