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What Are the Elements of a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

If you believe that you may have a personal injury claim, it’s worth examining what actually distinguishes a personal injury case from another civil legal claim. While every situation varies greatly, there are a few essential elements that make up a valid personal injury claim.

At Kiley Law Group, we always look at these four elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. Of course, there may be other elements at play in your particular case. The best way to find out whether or not your personal injury claim may have merit is to seek the help of a qualified law office.


The first element of any personal injury claim is duty. There are many instances in which we may each have a duty of care towards others, such as when driving, when maintaining public walk spaces, or when performing other daily tasks. If we see a person who is not exercising reasonable care, and that negligence results in injuries, then that individual must be held responsible.

For example, in the case of a car accident, the driver has a duty of care to other people on the roads. If the driver fails to exercise reasonable care, and someone else ends up getting hurt, that driver, or his or her insurance, might need to pay out compensation for the damage caused. This is the basis of many personal injury claims, not only with car accidents.

The main point is that we have a duty to behave as a reasonable person would behave in similar circumstances. If someone fails to do so, thereby causing harm to another person, he or she can be held liable in a court of law and even financially responsible for losses.


The second element of a personal injury case is a breach of that duty. This breach is a failure to observe a law or to break a code of conduct. In regards to personal injury lawsuits, breach of duty is one of the main elements of a lawyer’s case.

Like in the example of a car accident, each driver has a responsibility to obey the laws, including regulatory signs such as a stop sign. When a driver fails to halt at a stop sign, this is a failure to exercise reasonable care.

Consider also distracted driving, for which Massachusetts has been reported to have a serious problem compared to other states. Distracted drivers can be found culpable for their failure to exercise sufficient care. If that failure results in injuring another person, this is a breach of duty.


The third element of an injury claim is to prove that the breach of duty caused injuries. This is known in legal terms as “causation.” Basically, this means that there needs to be a clear link between the breach of duty and the injury suffered.

Take the example of a medical malpractice claim. The patient may say that the doctor caused injury by not failing to perform treatment with reasonable care. However, the doctor and medical team may argue that injuries were sustained due to pre-existing conditions rather than by the actions of the medical professionals. Thus, these cases need to be handled by someone with solid legal knowledge and experience.

In some cases, the principle of strict liability comes into play. That is when a defendant doesn’t necessarily have to be negligent in order to be considered responsible. Your personal injury lawyer can explain this legal principle as it applies to your case.


The final element in a personal injury claim is to prove that damages were sustained as a result of the defendant’s actions. This is where everything is tied together, from the duty of the defendant to exercise care, to the breach of that care, to the damages that resulted from the harm caused. Basically, you will be trying to prove how much you have suffered.

The injured party may be eligible to receive economic damages for their medical bills, lost wages, lost income, and loss of private property, as well as noneconomic damages for emotional harm. In order to be compensated for the actual damages suffered in your case, you need to make sure that the elements of personal injury claims are well established – to give you the best chance for a successful claim and fair payout.

How Kiley Law Group Can Help

Of these four main basic elements of a personal injury case, all are essential for proving your claim. You may not yet see how your case fulfills all of these elements that are required for a successful claim, so the best way to be sure about moving forward is to consult a legal professional.

With success in handling personal injury cases for over 40 years, Kiley Law Group is well-versed in personal injury law, and we take each negligence claim very seriously. Our compassionate attorneys want to help our clients who have suffered injury due to another person’s negligence.

Over the last four decades, we have helped clients recover over $1 billion in compensation. We can help you, starting with a free consultation available to all prospective clients.

Call us toll-free at 888-429-0824, or complete our contact form to take your next step towards personal injury recovery. Feel free to get in touch with us anytime, 24 hours a day.