Four Elements of a Personal Injury Claim

March 27, 2019

personal injury claim Pittsburgh, PA

If you were injured in an accident and are now looking to file a claim to get compensation, it is important that you understand the four elements of a personal injury claim. In order for you to be able to get a settlement, there are certain factors that must be present and accounted for. There must have been a duty of care, failure to exercise reasonable care, an established causation of your injury, and actual presence of damages. Details of each of these four elements is described below.

Duty of Care and Failure to Exercise Reasonable Care

First and foremost, there must be a duty of care in order to file a personal injury claim. That is true no matter what state you are in. A Duty of Care means that there was an expected level of consideration and care involved in the actions of that individual. For instance, if you are driving on government established roadways, you are expected to drive a car that is fit for driving and exercise a level of skill and caution while doing so. If you are a doctor, you are expected to follow a proper code of ethics whether regarding diagnosis, surgery, etc. If you are a property owner, you are expected to maintain the premises so it does not endanger your visitors. These are just some of many examples.

Once a duty of care has been established, there also must be evidence that someone failed to exercise that duty of care in a reasonable manner. Reasonable in a legal manner usually means that you exercised a level of care that any healthy, average human being should be able to do. This doesn’t mean if you have responsibilities and get drunk or high that you are suddenly exempt. You are expected to still watch your children and be mentally sound and aware as a parent, for example.

Examples in which someone didn’t fail to exercise reasonable care could include:

  • Avoiding a drunk driver swerving into your lane
  • Maintaining a premises while in a coma
  • Misdiagnosing a patient who withheld medical history information


Once the duty of care and failure to do so has been established, you must be able to clearly identify causation of your injuries or you will not have a case. You cannot simply say that a person failed to maintain their premises and you got hurt. You have to give details and a clear cause such as they failed to salt the ice on their walkway or didn’t secure their handrails on a stairway. You have to show how the negligent party is liable for your injuries and show how they failed to exercise that reasonable duty of care.

It is important to note that if you are partially to blame for the accident, that will affect the outcome of the case. In some states you must have 50% or less contribution to the blame or you have no claim to a settlement. Also, if you are partially the cause, you will only get the percentage that the negligent party is to blame for the settlement amount that is decided upon. So if you were to receive $100,000 but you were 20% to blame, you would only receive $80,000.

Presence of Damages

Finally, there is no personal injury case without a personal injury. This may sound obvious, but it goes a little more in depth than that. In a sense, getting some bruises on your leg or getting scared in the moment because of an accident does not constitute a lawsuit. There had to have been actual damages that have affected you in some way financially or caused long-term emotional or physical pain. Presence of damages must be reasonable and you must be able to prove that it cost you whether it be money, finances, or quality of life.

Contact a Pittsburgh Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Case in Pennsylvania

Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries in Pennsylvania due to someone else’s negligence? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Goodrich & Geist represent clients injured in Pittsburgh and surrounding Western Pennsylvania. counties. Contact us by calling (412) 766-1455 or email us to schedule a consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 3634 California Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.