• What Is Cause of Action in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
  • August 16, 2018 | Author: Adam S. Kutner
  • Law Firm: Adam S. Kutner & Associates - Las Vegas Office
  • When you’re hurt in a personal injury accident in Nevada, you might hear someone talking about your cause of action. A cause of action is a legal term.

    Even if you’d heard the term before, you may not know what a cause of action is or what it has to do with your personal injury case. This is why its essential to work with a Las Vegas personal injury attorney to ensure you understand all aspects of your case. Here’s what you should know about a cause of action in a personal injury claim.

    What Is a Cause of Action in a Legal Claim?

    A cause of action is the series of events that give a personal injury victim the right to bring a lawsuit. Having a cause of action means that events occurred that give a person the legal grounds to file a claim against another party.

    It means that the person is a victim of another person or party. When a cause of action exists, the victim has the grounds to bring a legal claim to ask for recovery for their damages.

    Can You Have More Than One Cause of Action in a Nevada Legal Claim?

    Yes, you can have multiple causes of action against another person. You can bring a legal claim that states all of the many claims that you have against another person or party.

    For example, if a person enters onto someone else’s land, destroys property, and assaults the landowner, the victim may claim damages for trespass, destruction, and assault and battery. A victim is entitled to compensation for all of the different types of damages that may occur.

    A Cause of Action Is Made up of Elements

    To have a cause of action, a series of facts must occur that give the victim a particular legal claim. It’s a series of steps or parts called elements. Only when all of the elements happen can a victim bring their legal claim.

    Most personal injury claims are based on a cause of action called negligence. A negligence cause of action has four elements - duty, breach, causation, damages:

    Duty - Duty is a person’s obligation to be careful for the sake of others. For example, a driver has a responsibility to be cautious for the good of other travelers on the road. A business owner has a duty to keep their property clean and safe for patrons.

    Breach of duty - The person with a duty must fail to uphold their duty. In the case of a vehicle driver, they breach their duty by failing to drive like a reasonable, cautious person. For a store owner, a breach of duty occurs when the person fails to keep their property in good repair.

    Causation - The breach of duty must be the cause of the victim’s injury. Even if someone breaches a duty of care, there’s no cause of action unless the breach of duty hurts someone else. The breach of duty must cause the injuries.

    Damages - To have a cause of action, the victim must suffer some kind of harm. They must have a financial or physical injury. There’s a wide range of damages that may be available to a victim if they have a cause of action.

    If you can prove that all four steps are true in your case, you have a cause of action.

    You Can Bring More Than One Theory of the Case

    You may not be sure what kind of cause of action you have in your case. If you’re not sure about the facts of the case or what cause of action may apply, you can begin your case by stating multiple theories. Stating more than one theory of the case is called pleading in the alternative. You can state both theories of the case and leave it up to the jury to decide what they believe really happened.

    For example, imagine a case where you’re rear-ended by another vehicle. You believe that the driver may have hit you intentionally because of road rage, but you’re not sure. To bring your claim, you can state that the driver hit you deliberately or accidentally. It’s important to clearly state your cause of action in your first court papers.

    Where Do Causes of Action Come From?

    The legislature can create a cause of action. Lawmakers may decide that a person should be able to recover damages when they suffer a particular type of harm at the hands of someone else. On the other hand, a cause of action may come from ancient customs called common law. The courts recognized certain types of wrongs based on tradition long before lawmakers created laws.

    Sometimes, lawmakers modify a cause of action that’s based in common law. For example, negligence is a common-law cause of action. However, lawmakers amended the common law negligence cause of action by creating the modified comparative negligence rule that applies to negligence cases.

    What Should You Do If You Have a Cause of Action?

    If you have a cause of action, you may bring a legal claim to seek compensation. You may work directly with the other party or an insurance company to state your demand for compensation. In some cases, they may agree to a fair recovery without your needing to file a legal claim.

    In other cases, you need to bring a legal claim to recover formally. When you bring a formal legal case, it’s important to accurately state all of the causes of action that may apply to your claim. Our skilled legal team can help you draft your claim to ensure that it appropriately states all of the causes of action that may exist in your case.