How Do You Prove Negligence in New York State?

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If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence in New York, it is essential to understand how to prove negligence in a personal injury case. To do this, four key elements of negligence must be shown to have occurred for a negligence lawsuit to be successful. However, gathering evidence, speaking with witnesses, and ultimately proving a personal injury can be extremely challenging without the help of a Westchester personal injury attorney. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can ensure that the records from your case are being put to the best use.

The Four Key Elements in a Negligence Lawsuit

The elements of negligence include duty, breach, causation, and damages. These distinct elements must be proved in their own right to find a person liable for negligence. If one of the elements is not satisfied by the evidence, the lawsuit will be unsuccessful. By understanding the following four elements, you will be prepared for what will need to be proven when you file a personal injury lawsuit in Westchester:

Duty of Care

The first element of negligence is establishing that the defendant owed you a legal duty of care. In most cases, this duty arises when the law recognizes a relationship between the parties that requires the defendant to act with reasonable care toward you. For instance, all drivers have a duty to drive with reasonable care for others on the road and themselves. When they do not, they have breached this duty of care.

Breach of Duty

Next, you must demonstrate that the defendant breached this duty of care by failing to meet the required standard of care. This typically involves proving that the defendant’s actions or inactions were unreasonable under the circumstances. In the example above, if the defendant ran a red light and caused an accident, running the light would be considered a breach of their duty to drive with care.


You must then establish that the defendant’s breach of duty directly caused your injuries. This requires proving both actual causes and proximate causes, meaning your injury was a foreseeable result of the defendant’s actions. This is typically the most argued-over element in a negligence case. Often, defense attorneys and insurance companies will try to argue that your injuries were actually caused by another person or were the result of a previous accident. Having a skilled attorney in your corner can help show that your injuries were caused by the defendant in question.


Finally, you must show that you suffered actual harm as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty. This can include physical, emotional, or financial injuries.

Records You Should Keep to Support Your Negligence Case

To strengthen and prove your case, it is vital to keep several types of records. Medical records will usually serve as the bulk of the evidence in a negligence case. These documents help establish the nature and extent of your injuries, as well as the causal link between the defendant’s actions and your harm. Make sure to keep copies of all relevant medical records, including treatment plans, prescriptions, and bills.

If the police investigate your accident, the accident report can serve as a valuable piece of evidence. Official reports from law enforcement or other agencies can provide crucial evidence regarding the circumstances surrounding the incident. Accident reports will also contain the names and addresses of the parties involved and any witnesses that were interviewed. Testimony from witnesses can corroborate your account of events and help establish the defendant’s breach of duty. If you can, obtain statements from anyone who witnessed the incident, and make sure to include their contact information.

You can also use your smartphone to take photos and videos of the scene and your injuries. Photographs and videos can visually demonstrate the consequences of the defendant’s negligence, supporting your claims of causation and damages. This will also preserve the appearance of your injuries just after the accident, which could help if you have no physical ailments by the time your case goes to court.

Also, keeping records of lost wages, medical expenses, and other financial losses can help prove your injury and the damages you are seeking. Keep detailed records of all expenses related to your injury, including invoices, receipts, and any other records for payments made in connection with your injuries.

How Negligence on Your Part Could Impact Your Case

In Westchester and throughout New York, cases involving negligence follow the comparative negligence rule. Under this rule, if the plaintiff is found to be partially at fault for their injuries, their recovery may be reduced by their percentage of fault. If the plaintiff is more than 50% at fault, they cannot recover any damages. Therefore, it is important to understand how their own negligence may affect their case and work with their attorney to minimize their percentage of fault.

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