If you find yourself hurt in an accident, you may wind up with an impossible hill of medical bills. You may have required emergency treatment and therapy, or perhaps you need continued care. No matter what type of care you need, you know that being out of work has made it all but impossible to figure out how to pay for any of it, let alone your day-to-day bills.

Getting injured through no fault of your own may be considered a personal injury, and as such, an attorney may be able to file a lawsuit against the negligent party. What is negligence, and how is it calculated? Take a look at the four elements that make up the legal definition of negligence to see if maybe you qualify for help.

1. Duty of Care

When talking about negligence, the first prong to the test is whether the defendant (the alleged negligent party) was responsible for the injuries. The first prong in the negligence test is whether they had a duty of care to uphold. This is a responsibility to avoid doing anything that might lead to the harm of another. An example is a drunk driver getting behind the wheel. In a sober state, the person knows that getting behind the wheel may lead to the harm of another; thus, there is an innate duty of care.

2. Breach of duty

The breaking of the duty of care is the next element in proving the defendant is negligent. If the plaintiff can prove that the defendant acted irresponsibly with little to no consideration for the welfare of others, it is a breach of duty.  An example is a doctor who does not wear gloves and transmits a virus to a patient. The doctor had a duty of care to maintain (following proper sanitary practices) and for some reason didn’t which resulted in damage to another person.

3. Damage

If the plaintiff suffered injury or harm due to the irresponsible actions of the defendant, and the damage was foreseeable by the action or inaction of the defendant, the third prong of the negligence case is met.

4. Causation

Just because the plaintiff is injured doesn’t mean it was the defendant’s fault, correct? The final element of a case to prove negligence is proof that the actions or inactions of the defendant directly lead to the plaintiff’s loss.

When considering a lawsuit for a personal injury, negligence is something that must be proven to make your case. Speak to someone who can help decide if your circumstance meets the negligence test.