There are four things that must be proven in a Cape Cod negligence case: duty, breach of duty, damages, and causation. “Duty” means that the plaintiff has to show that the defendant had an obligation to either act in a certain manner or refrain from acting in a particular way. “Breach of duty” occurs when the defendant failed to perform the action(s) required by the duty he or she had to the plaintiff or when the plaintiff performed an action that he or she should not have, given the duty. For example, drivers owe one another a duty to keep a proper lookout while driving. If a driver is looking down to read a text, he or she has likely breached this duty. If you’ve been injured and believe another person may be responsible, discussing the details of the incident with a Cape Cod personal injury lawyer is a good idea.
Not every breach of duty results in a finding of liability, however. This is because there must also be proof of damages (such as physical injury) and proximate causation. The question of proximate causation is more than a simple “someone breached a duty and someone else got hurt” proposition. Rather, the harm that befell the plaintiff must have been a foreseeable result of the breach of duty.
Sometimes, a defendant may have blatantly breached a duty of some sort but still not be held liable for a plaintiff’s injuries. This is because, in the court’s view (or in the jury’s view, if the case proceeds to trial) the harm that resulted was beyond that which a reasonable person would have foreseen at the time that the defendant acted (or failed to act).