How to Prove Negligence in a Personal Injury Case

Have you been injured due to someone else’s carelessness in Massachusetts? If so, you might be considering a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. But one crucial question you need to ask yourself is how do you prove negligence in your case?

Winning a personal injury lawsuit hinges on establishing negligence. This means showing that the other party, called the defendant, acted unreasonably and caused your injuries. Altman Nussbaum Shunnarah understands the challenges of personal injury law in Massachusetts and can guide you through the process. This guide will break down the key elements you need to prove to build a strong negligence case.

Duty of Care

You must prove the defendant (the person or entity you are suing) owed you a care duty. A duty of care is a legal obligation to act reasonably and avoid causing foreseeable harm to others. The duty of care ranges based on the circumstances. For instance, drivers owe a duty of care to other motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists to operate their vehicles safely. Property owners owe a duty of care to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition for visitors.

Breach of Duty

Once you have established that the defendant owed you a duty of care, you must prove they breached that duty. A breach occurs when the defendant fails to exercise the level of care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise under similar circumstances. For example, a driver who runs a red light or a property owner who fails to address a known safety hazard on their premises may be considered to have breached their duty of care.


The third element you must prove is causation, which consists of two parts: cause in fact and proximate cause. 

  • Cause in fact: This means that the defendant’s breach of duty was the actual cause of your injury. In other words, you must show that your injury would not have occurred but for the defendant’s negligent conduct. 
  • Proximate cause: It means that your injury was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s breach of duty. The defendant does not have to have foreseen the specific injury, but the type of injury must have been a reasonably foreseeable result of their negligent conduct.


Finally, you must prove that you suffered actual damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence. Damages in a personal injury case can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other losses resulting from the injury. You must provide evidence of your damages, like medical bills, pay stubs, and expert testimony.

Types of Evidence in Proving Negligence

To prove the elements of negligence, you will need to present various types of evidence. This evidence may include:

  • Eyewitness testimony: Eyewitnesses who observed the incident or the circumstances leading up to it can provide valuable testimony about what happened and who was at fault.
  • Expert testimony: Depending on the nature of the case, you may need to rely on expert witnesses to establish the standard of care, causation, or the extent of your damages. For example, a medical expert may testify about the nature and extent of your injuries, while an accident reconstruction expert may testify about how the accident occurred.
  • Physical evidence: Physical evidence, such as photographs, video recordings, and documents, can help support your claim and establish the facts of the case.
  • Medical records: Your medical records will be crucial in documenting your injuries, the treatment you received, and the associated costs.
  • Employment records: If you missed work due to your injury, your employment records can help demonstrate your lost wages and other economic damages.

Massachusetts Comparative Negligence Rule and Its Impact on Proving Negligence

In Massachusetts, the principle of comparative negligence applies in personal injury cases. This infers that what you receive as compensation could be reduced if you are found to be partially at fault for the incident. The amount of your damages will be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault.

For example, if you are awarded $100,000 in damages but are found to be 20% at fault, your award would be reduced by 20%, and you would receive $80,000. However, if you are found to be more than 50% at fault, you cannot recover any damages under Massachusetts law.

Consult with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

Have you sustained injuries due to someone’s carelessness? Don’t hesitate to contact us for consultation. Our attorneys will thoroughly evaluate your case and fight tirelessly to secure the compensation you deserve.

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