As readers of this blog know, our White Plains, New York, office represents victims of a variety of different types of personal injury claims. Whether it is a car accident, an accident at a retail store or on someone else’s private property, or some other type of accident, the common theme in almost every personal injury case is negligence.

Negligence is a legal term of art that is a shorthand way of saying that if a person is, as a matter of law, careless and thereby hurts someone else, the careless person should pay for the victim’s damages. In other words, a victim must ordinarily first establish negligence before he or she can get compensation following an accident

To prove negligence, a victim has to establish four things, called elements, and do so to the point where the judge or jury is over 50 percent convinced. To put these elements in plain English, a victim must prove that the person they are suing a) had some sort of legal obligation to look out for the well-being of the victim, even if that obligation was just as one member of the public to another, b) fell short in that obligation in some material way, and c) thereby causing an injury to the victim.

The fourth element is that the victim must prove the extent of his or her damages in terms of dollars and cents. Although not every loss has to be precisely quantified, there has to be a real injury that one can at least to some extent put a dollar value on.