What Role Does Negligence Play in My Virginia Personal Injury Claim?

Once in a while, a Virginia personal injury accident is genuinely unavoidable, and no one is at fault. In most cases, however, someone’s reckless conduct or careless actions are the cause of injury or harm to another person. Victims of this type of behavior are entitled to hold the at-fault person liable for their financial and physical losses arising from the incident. You should never have to pay for damages you suffered due to the actions of another person.

Most personal injury accidents occur as the result of an error in judgment rather than deliberate, malicious behavior. This lack of intention is what makes negligence so ubiquitous in personal injury cases. Just because the action was unintentional does not mean the negligent person cannot be held accountable, it means that victims must prove negligence.

Standard of Care 

To establish that someone was negligent, you have to show that they deviated from legal or socially acceptable behavior, such as by running a red light, and that action led to negative consequences for another person. This is what is known as the standard of care. In legal terms, it is the degree of caution and good judgment a reasonable person would use in the same or similar circumstances. 

Four Elements of Negligence

distracted driving

Proving negligence is not as simple as stating that someone was negligent and is, therefore, responsible for your injuries. Your Virginia personal injury lawyer will need to build a case using the elements of negligence and strong, relevant evidence. To be awarded any financial compensation in a personal injury claim, you must prove that the four elements of negligence were present. 


As a society, we owe each other a duty of care to act responsibly and reasonably. The first element that has to be established is whether a legal duty of care existed between you and the respondent. This doesn’t mean you need to know them personally, you just need to show that they had a basic responsibility not to endanger your safety.  

Violation of Duty

Next, you have to prove that the respondent violated their duty of care. If law enforcement issued a citation for a violation, or the respondent’s actions led to a criminal conviction, that can often serve as evidence that the duty of care was violated.

Unfortunately, proving a violation of duty is not always that simple. A driver could be negligent and cause an accident without actually breaking any laws. A good example of this kind of negligence is distracted driving.  

Other examples of a violation of duty include:

  • Physicians who provide inadequate or incorrect care and harm a patient
  • Motorists who speed, drive drunk, or text
  • Property owners who fail to repair hazardous conditions on their premises


Causation is a complex legal concept. It means that victims must prove that the violation was both the proximate and actual cause of their injury. In other words, the respondent should have reasonably anticipated the outcome of their actions. An experienced Virginia Beach personal injury lawyer from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp will have the necessary resources and insight to determine and prove causation. 


Suffering some form of loss or injury is integral to being compensated, although physical injury is just one of the standards by which loss is determined. Although damage to your vehicle and your injuries are the most obvious justifications for compensation due to negligence, it can be difficult to prove they were all caused by the respondent, particularly if the accident worsened a pre-existing condition. You need the knowledge and skill of our Virginia personal injury lawyers to ensure you are fully and fairly compensated for all of your damages, not just the ones that are obvious. 

Contact a Virginia Personal Injury Attorney Today

If another person is responsible for your injuries, you should never wait to meet with one of our Virginia Beach-area personal injury lawyers. Speak with an experienced attorney from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp by calling (833) 997-1774 or filling out our online form. We can effectively review your potential Virginia personal injury case and determine if you can prove both negligence and damages, and, if so, work toward getting you the recovery you deserve. 

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