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A Guide to Proving Negligence & Fault in a Personal Injury Claim

There were nearly 155,000 auto accidents across Canada in 2017. While the overall number of auto accidents that involve injuries and fatalities is on the decline thanks to better auto manufacturing standards, they're still happening at astonishingly high rates.

Any time you are injured in an auto accident and you take the opposing party to court, you need to prove that they acted negligently in order to prevail. How do you go about proving negligence? Read on to find out!

The Defendant Must Have Had a Duty of Care

Any time you have a personal injury claim, you must prove that defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. This means that the defendant had a duty when they were driving to be careful not to injure other people or their property. Examples of this including stopping at stop signs, signaling before lane changes, and driving at a reasonable speed.

Breach of Duty

The second step of proving negligence is to prove that the defendant breached their duty of care. For example, they failed to stop at a stop sign or they changed lanes without using a blinker or checking their blind spot.

Cause in Fact

The third step of proving negligence is to show that the defendant's failure to exercise reasonable care is what caused the accident and any associated injuries. This is generally expressed in a "but for" sentence. "But for the defendant's failure to stop at a stop sign, the plaintiff's car would not have been totalled."


You must also have damages in order to prevail in court. You cannot sue someone simply for failing to exercise reasonable care if you do not have damages as a result of that failure.

Damages awarded in personal injury cases are typically compensatory damages. You would receive compensation for damages to your personal property as well as for missed time at work, medical expenses, and for pain and suffering. Be sure to keep any receipts or bills that you incur as a result of your accident to help calculate your damages.

Proximate Cause

Finally, you have to prove that the defendant could have reasonable foreseen that their actions would cause damages such as those that you suffered. For example, it is reasonable that running a stop sign would result in an auto accident.

Things get more complicated when there's a more tenuous connection between their actions and your harm. For example, if someone lightly bumps into your car and you suffer a heart attack, then you will have a hard time proving that the defendant could have reasonably foreseen a heart attack as a result of their actions.

Proving Negligence Is Important for Success in Your Case

If you want to win your cause and recoup your losses, then proving negligence is a major part of your strategy in court. A good lawyer can help you navigate all of the elements of negligence and the legal process, as well. Be sure to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after any kind of accident to maximize your chances of success.

Are you looking for a personal injury lawyer in Sudbury or Val Caron? Look no further! Contact Paquette & Paquette Lawyers today to learn how we can help you with your personal injury case.


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