The Arguments in a Personal Injury Claim

by | Aug 8, 2012 | Personal Injury Lawyer

First off, a personal injury claim is under the law of negligence. Negligence presupposes conduct inconsistent with that of a reasonable person that leads to damage or injury to another. Negligence suits are encompassed in the law of Torts, which deals with civil wrongs generally.

Since the determination of the case of Donoghue vs. Stevenson [1932] AC, the elements to be proved in a personal injury claim have generally remained static. The plaintiff in the case bought ginger beer in a restaurant and while drinking it, she noted decomposed remains of a snail inside the beer. She later became sick and was diagnosed with gastroenteritis. She also suffered from severe shock.


The House of Lords set out the principles in negligence suits. First, Lord Atkins explained the “neighbor principle.” In answering the question: “who is my neighbor?” the learned judge stated that reasonable care must be taken to avoid acts or omissions that are reasonably foreseeable and which are likely to cause injury to another person. A neighbor then is that person who is so closely related and directly affected by one’s actions thus imposing a burden to act reasonably and in contemplation of them being affected while intending to do certain acts or omitting to do others.

Simply, a neighbor is that person whom you can reasonably foresee that he/she may be directly affected by your actions. So, what is the relevance of this in a personal injury Orange County claim? Well, in assessing whether a defendant should be liable for negligence, it must be showed that he/she could reasonably foresee the harm occasioned to the plaintiff. The “neighbor” test must be employed before any personal injury case can stand in a court of law.


In the application of the neighbor principle, the plaintiff will have to prove the existence of a duty of care to the defendant. Was the defendant under legal obligation to act carefully in contemplation that certain acts or omissions would occasion harm to the plaintiff? If the answer is yes, then the first element will have been proved in a negligence case.

Secondly, a personal injury lawyer must demonstrate to the court that the duty of care was indeed breached. In other words, it must be proved that the defendant acted unreasonably in the circumstances occasioning harm to the plaintiff. The question is: how would a reasonable man have acted in the circumstances?

Third, a negligence suit cannot stand in any court of law without establishing that the plaintiff suffered damage or harm as a result of the defendant’s actions. So, you have already proved existence of a duty of care and breach of the same, but what harm was occasioned to you? What remedies are you seeking from the court? A plaintiff cannot be seen to be wasting the court’s time by alleging breach of a duty that occasioned no harm.

In conclusion, all the three tests must be satisfied for a personal injury Orange County suit to hold water.

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