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What are the five elements of negligence?

Following a car accident, a West Virginia resident may feel a variety of emotions. Sometimes, a person might feel greatly overwhelmed by the incident. Knowing what to do following an accident is not always easy. However, when you are a victim as a result of the actions of a negligent driver, you have options. There are ways to bring a negligent driver to justice and possibly obtain compensation.

There are five elements that typically must be proved in negligence cases. The first of these five elements is duty. A duty must be owed to the victim -- for example, the duty to drive safely. Next, it must be proven that a breach of this duty occurred. If the defendant failed to act in a way that a reasonable person would in ensuring that the duty owed to the plaintiff is fulfilled, it can be proved that there was a breach of duty.

The third element of negligence is called the cause in fact. This is the basic definition: Were it not for the defendant's actions, the plaintiff would not have been injured. In other words, no injury would have occurred if the defendant did not act negligently.

Next, there is proximate cause -- that is, the proximity of the defendant's actions to the harms involved in the lawsuit. This involves whether or not it is considered fair to attribute an injury to the actions of a defendant. And finally, the fifth and final element of negligence involves damages. Damages must be proven. These include things like medical bills and pain suffering caused by the car accident injuries.

Successfully proving negligence can result in the obtainment of compensation that can help victims pay for damages. Attorneys are available to help victims bring negligent drivers to justice.

Source: FindLaw, "Accident Fault FAQ," Accessed on March 23, 2017

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