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Proving fault in a personal injury lawsuit

February 11, 2010


As the plaintiff in a Texas personal injury lawsuit, you have the burden of proving that the defendant was at fault for your injuries. In civil lawsuits, the burden of proof is a “preponderance of the evidence.” Preponderance of the evidence simply means that your version of the facts is more likely than not to be true.

Most personal injury claims are based on the legal principle of negligence. A person is negligent when they fail to exercise the care that a reasonable person would under the same circumstances. If someone’s negligence causes an injury to another person, then they can be held liable for their damages.

To prove fault under a theory of negligence, you must show four things:

  1. The defendant owed you a legal duty of care.
  2. The defendant breached that duty through their actions.
  3. The defendant’s conduct caused an accident involving the plaintiff.
  4. The plaintiff was injured or harmed in some way as a result.

Here’s an example of how these four elements would work in a personal injury lawsuit. Let’s say that Joe runs a stop sign and hits a car being driven by Sue. Sue had no stop sign, so she had the right of way. In order to bring a successful personal injury lawsuit, Sue will need to prove that:

  1. Because Joe was operating a vehicle on public streets, he owed Sue and all other drivers a legal duty to drive with reasonable caution.
  2. By running the stop sign, Joe breached that duty of care.
  3. As a result of breaching his legal duty to drive with reasonable caution, Joe caused his car to collide with Sue’s car.
  4. Due to the collision with Joe’s car, Sue suffered injuries.

If you have been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you should seek the immediate advice of an experienced personal injury attorney to learn about your legal rights.

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