How Do You Prove Negligence in New York?

Personal injury claims and lawsuits rely on a plaintiff’s ability to prove that negligence occurred and that this reckless or careless behavior contributed to or caused the injury in question. In the context of civil litigation, it does not matter if the alleged negligence was intentional or accidental. If you were unjustly hurt and are considering legal action against another party, it’s important to understand the elements of proving negligence in New York.

How is negligence defined?

First, you must understand how negligence is defined.  In the most general of terms, negligence is the failure to take the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under similar circumstances.  Negligence can include actions or omissions in situations where there is a reasonable duty to help others. 

Here is an example to help better illustrate the legal concept of negligence. You are driving to work in Midtown, when another driver slams into your vehicle, causing you to suffer neck and back injuries. As it turns out, the other driver was texting at the time and was not paying attention to his surroundings. In this scenario, the texting driver should be responsible for the financial losses stemming from your injuries, but negligence cases are not easy to prove without a qualified personal injury lawyer.

Four elements of negligence

A legal claim arising from negligence must meet the following four criteria:

  • Duty of Care — This means that the defendant owed the claimant a legal obligation to protect them from unreasonable harm. As an example, drug makers have a legal duty to ensure that potential side effects are advertised, and their products are safe for their intended purpose. Drivers have a duty to all motorists and pedestrians on the road to comply with traffic laws and exercise caution.
  • Breach of Duty — This means the defendant failed to fulfill the duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff. A breach could be wrongful action, a failure to act, or careless behavior.
  • Causation — It must be proven that the breach of duty resulted in the plaintiff’s injury. In order to recover personal injury compensation in New York, negligence must be a substantial factor in causing the accident and bodily injury.
  • Damages — The plaintiff must demonstrate the actual losses (financial expenses and/or mental anguish) sustained due to the injury. For example, you were in a motorcycle crash but walked away without any injuries. The at-fault party’s insurance covered the cost of bike repairs, so you cannot claim “damages” in the accident.

Proving negligence with evidence

Proving negligence in a car accident or injury claim may seem cut and dry, but requires solid evidence that demonstrates the defendant’s actions were clearly in the wrong. In New York, injured plaintiffs are allowed to seek damages against a negligent party, even if their own actions partially contributed to the accident.

A skilled New York personal injury lawyer can ensure crucial evidence is preserved and admissible in court. This could include:

  • Surveillance footage of the accident site
  • Testimony of eyewitnesses
  • Cell phone records
  • Medical records
  • Accident records from the police
  • Drug and/or alcohol tests
  • Records of past safety inspections
  • Testimony from expert witnesses

Get help from Douglas & London

At the law firm of Douglas & London, our legal team is well-versed in negligence laws and has the investigative resources to collect evidence that can be used in slip and fall lawsuits, motor vehicle accident claims, workplace injuries, and other incidents.

Keep in mind that New York’s statute of limitations for legal actions arising from negligence is just three years from the date of the accident.

Contact Douglas & London to arrange a free consultation with a personal injury attorney who can maximize your recovery. We excel in complicated cases and our attorneys have obtained more than $18 billion in settlements and awards for their clients.

We appreciate the financial burdens our clients endure and offer our legal services with no upfront fees. If we do not win or settle your case, you don’t pay a cent.