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Elements of a Personal Injury Claim

Elements of a Personal Injury Claim

No one ever expects to be injured, but when it happens, the law provides a way for those who have been harmed to seek compensation. If you’ve been injured in an accident, you may be considering filing a personal injury claim. But what exactly goes into a personal injury claim?

Your injury must meet several requirements to establish a legitimate personal injury claim. To receive the maximum compensation for your injuries, you will need to work with your lawyer to prove that the accident resulted from negligence. You will also need to prove up the value of all of the damages you sustained. If you can prove these things to the court, you will receive compensation for your damages.

Sounds easy, right? On the contrary, anyone who has fought a personal injury legal battle can attest that proving a negligent party’s fault is never an easy task. You will need all the professional help that you can get.

This article will outline the basics of a personal injury claim, including damages that may be recoverable. Keep in mind that every case is unique, so if you have questions about your specific situation, it is very important to speak with a personal injury lawyer.

What are the 4 Basic Elements of a Personal Injury Claim?

To make a personal injury claim, you need to understand the different elements that make up a claim. There are four main elements: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Each one has its own specific requirements that you must meet. If any of these elements is not met, compensation will be denied, and the judge will rule in favor of the defendant.

Duty of Care

The first element that has to be proven in any personal injury claim is the duty of care. You will need to convince the court that the defendant had a duty to act with reasonable care to protect you from the injuries you incurred.

The duty of care may vary across circumstances. For instance, in the case of a road accident, it is a driver’s duty to drive safely and abide by road regulations to ensure their safety and that of other people on the road.

If they failed to use reasonable care under the circumstances, violated any ordinances or rules of the road, or drove under the influence, leading to the accident, they may be held liable for damages.

In a personal injury claim involving a property owner, a manufacturing company, or any other party, you will need to prove that the party had a duty to use reasonable care to provide you with safety.

Breach of Duty

The second element that must be proven in your personal injury claim is whether the defendant breached their duty. A breach of duty may be anything from a slight mistake of omission to sheer recklessness. For instance, if the driver in your car accident was texting when they ran into you or did not stop at a stop sign, that would be considered a breach of the duty to use reasonable care when operating a vehicle.

If a property owner failed to remove or repair a dangerous condition on its property where visitors to the property are expected to be, and a visitor sustains injuries because of the defective condition, the owner will be found to have breached their duty.

If a manufacturer does not give proper instruction on the use of their product and you end up with injuries, they be found to have breached their duty and may be held liable for your injuries.


Once you have proven the defendant’s duty and its breach thereof, you will need to prove that the defendant’s negligence were the actual and legal cause of your injuries. While some cases may be straightforward, others may have complications that may affect the value of your compensation.

Some of the questions you may need to answer are;

  • Did the defendant’s actions directly cause your injuries?
  • Were there other external factors that caused or contributed to your injury?
  • Did you have pre-existing injuries and, if so, to what extent did the defendant’s actions exacerbate those injuries?

If you can prove that the injuries would not have happened without the defendant’s negligent actions, you have a high chance of being awarded compensation.


The damages are the final element of the personal injury claim and will determine whether you are compensated and how much compensation will be awarded. For the court to consider your claim, you must provide proof of each element of your damages.

If there are no damages from the defendant’s negligence, then no compensation will be awarded. For instance, if you have slippery, unlabeled floors in a store and it causes you to fall, but you are not injured by slipping and falling, then there will be no case.

The same applies if a driver swerves into your lane and causes you to drive on to the shoulder to avoid an accident. While the driver may receive a traffic citation, they will have no personal injury charges to answer. The possibility that injuries could have occurred is not sufficient to win a case.

If you ever get hurt due to someone’s negligence, it is important to document all evidence of injuries and damages that may help prove your case.

What Types of Compensation Are You Entitled to?

If you win the claim against the negligent party in your personal injury case, you stand to get compensation for your losses. The amount of money and compensation you will get depends on the extent of your injuries and how strong your case is. This is why you need a personal injury lawyer to help draft a negotiation for you. Here are some of the damages your lawyer may seek.

Medical Costs

The first type of damages you may receive for your injury is your medical bills and expenses. The court may order the defendant to cover any hospital charges or prescriptions you get. This includes visits to specialists, therapy, rehabilitation, and future medical bills.

An experienced attorney in Chicago will research your injuries and work with medical specialists to find out what costs you may expect in the future.

Once the court case has been settled and the defendants tender the agreed compensation, it is impossible to receive any additional benefits.

Lost Income

The next common type of compensation is for the lost wages you incurred due to your injury. You must establish that while you recover from your injuries, you may be indisposed and unable to perform your employment duties. In this case, the court will order the negligent party to compensate you for your lost wages.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering is another major category of damages in a personal injury case. These damages are considered “non-economic” damages because they are difficult to attach a dollar figure to. They may include not only your physical pain and suffering but also psychological distress and disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Your attorney will work to document and prove the amount of pain and suffering you incurred due to the defendant’s negligence.

Loss of enjoyment, deformity and diminished quality of life are all possible types of compensation you may be entitled to. You can discuss your list with your personal injury lawyer and have them advise you on each of these items.

Loss of a Normal Life

If you suffer permanent restrictions due to the accident and injury, you can recover compensation for being unable to participate in your normal life activities including recreational activities and activities of daily life.

Damages for Wrongful Death

If you have a family member who passes away because of an accident or injury, it may be possible to recover for all related medical costs, pain and suffering by the decedent, loss of financial support, loss of companionship or consortium, and funeral and burial costs.

What Are the Deadlines for Filing a Case?

In Illinois (like all states), you must file your legal claim within a certain time period, called the statute of limitations, after being involved in an accident or sustaining injuries.

The amount of time you have to file depends on the type of claim you have. Generally, your accident claim must be filed within two years of the accident or the injury victim’s death. If the accident involves a local or state government agency, you have just one year to file your accident claim.

There are other exceptions and special circumstances that may affect the statute of limitations in your case. If you fail to file a claim within the applicable statute of limitations period, you will lose your ability to receive compensation under the law. Therefore, it is important to contact us without delay after suffering an injury.

Hire the Perfect Personal Injury Lawyer for the Perfect Case

As simple as it may sound to put together a personal injury claim, it is never a walk in the park. Remember that your defendant is also out to defend themselves and reduce losses. So it is likely that they will have the best lawyers behind them to fight their case. This means you should never show up to a personal injury claim unprepared.

If after reading this article you still have questions about whether you have a personal injury claim, please contact an attorney for legal advice. At Drake & Collopy P.C., we offer highly skilled personal injury representation in Chicago and throughout Illinois.

Our primary objective is to ensure your compensation is complete for the damages that you suffered. We have decades of experience representing clients in their personal injury claims and are ready to put our skills and experience to work for you.

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