Determining Fault in Personal Injury Cases


When you’re injured in a car crash, slip and fall, dog bite, or other kind of personal injury, it all comes down to determining fault. Missouri will hold anyone legally responsible for injuries caused to another person due to that person’s failure to exercise proper care.

That means if you were hurt in any kind of accident and want to file a personal injury claim, you must prove that the other party was negligent. Here’s a deeper look at determining fault in a personal injury case.

What Are the Elements of Negligence?

When a person is negligent, they fail to provide the proper level of care that a reasonable and prudent person would have provided in a similar situation. Basically, it all boils down to carelessness.

In Missouri, four elements must be present to prove negligence. If you are the victim of a personal injury, it is your burden to prove the other party was negligent to gain compensation for your damages.

Duty of Care

Duty of care must exist in all personal injury claims to prove negligence. One of the easiest ways to understand it is when looking at car accidents, which are one of the most common personal injury claims. Every driver owes everyone else on the road a duty of care to operate their vehicle safely while obeying traffic laws.

Breach of Duty

The next element that must be proven is that the other party breached their duty of care, and again, a car accident is the easiest way to illustrate this point. If a person has too many alcoholic beverages and gets behind the wheel, they have breached their duty.


When the breach of duty has been proven, you will then need to show that this breach caused your injury. Missouri law has two components that must be present for causation.

The first is cause-in-fact, often known as “actual cause” or the “but for” test. It simply means that your injuries wouldn’t have happened but for the defendant’s actions. If you can prove you wouldn’t have been injured without the defendant’s action or their lack of action, then you have established causation. Proximate cause is the second part of causation. It exists if your injury naturally came from the defendant’s conduct.


The final piece of the negligence puzzle is proving that you were hurt by the other party’s conduct. Quite simply, even if the at-fault party breached their duty, your claim won’t be successful if you didn’t suffer any harm from this breach. An example of this would be if someone ran you off the road, but you had no injuries and incurred no financial losses from the event.

Determining fault and proving negligence are often difficult in personal injury cases. It is wise to choose a St. Louis, Missouri personal injury lawyer to help you establish negligence and recover the compensation you deserve. 


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