What Does It Mean If A Plaintiff "Fails To Prove The Elements" Of A Texas Personal Injury Case?
In any Texas personal injury case the burden is on the plaintiff to prove the elements of their case. Elements are legal requirements to have a valid personal injury claim. The defendant does not actually have to prove anything in a personal injury case. Instead, they can dispute the evidence that purports to satisfy the elements necessary to prove your case.
This defense is called failure to prove the elements. This is not so much a defense strategy, as it is an argument that the plaintiff didn't prove the legal burden necessary to have a valid personal injury claim.
In this article, personal injury attorney Michael Grossman explains the elements that you must satisfy in order to have a valid personal injury case.
In our continuing discussion of defenses Texas law allows, we're now going to look at what failing to "prove elements" means.
Questions answered on this page:
- What case elements must I meet in my Texas personal injury case?
- Why are these elements necessary in my Texas personal injury case?
- What will an experienced attorney do to make sure my case meets these elements?
- How does an experienced Dallas-based attorney help me win?
What we mean by a "case's elements".
When we file a lawsuit, we're alleging that you have been injured by someone, sure, but also that Texas courts are allowed to hear your case. There's no right to sue someone for "being mean" or "liking the wrong football team." Instead, you must file a claim that has been recognized as valid. In injury cases, we're generally suing defendants for negligence. Just like with every other case, negligence cases have elements--think "ingredients"--that must be proved exist. In negligence, this is what we have to prove:
- The defendant owed you a duty
- The defendant breached that duty
- The breach was the cause of your accident
- You experienced damages as a result.
If any single element is shown to be absent, the jury has no grounds to rule in your favor.
As in every state in America, Texas's courts require plaintiffs to prove each element exists in order to keep your claim in court.
Let's use an easy example: damages in a car wreck case. Drivers owe one another a duty to drive in a reasonably safe manner. They breach that duty when they text while driving or drive intoxicated. Often, when they do so, they cause accidents. We've now got three of the four elements. But what if the accident literally caused zero damages? What if you had no injuries, problems with your car, lost time at work, or any pain and suffering? The answer is: you shouldn't have filed a lawsuit in the first place.
The bottom line for injury cases is that your lawsuit must have evidence of each element of the claim.
Defendants and their lawyers ALWAYS try to claim your case is missing elements.
At the conclusion of a trial, juries are given a questionnaire. That questionnaire will have the elements of your case in some form in the questions. If you fail to prove one of the elements, the jury cannot award compensation. This is why in closing arguments defense attorneys will focus on one or several of the elements of your case and argue to the jury that you have not proven that element. If the jury believes the defense attorney, it will mean that you will lose your case.
Defendants will attack your case at every angle they can---and if you don't hire the right lawyer, they could well succeed. It's our job to do a thorough investigation and case workup to ensure that your case the necessary evidence to prove the elements necessary for you to prevail.
Our firm has been helping victims fight back for 25 years. In that time we have helped literally hundreds of Texans to help make their lives whole again after a personal injury. If you've been hurt or lost a loved one, don't hesitate to call us at (855) 326-0000 for a completely free and confidential consult with one of our experienced attorneys.
Related Articles for Further Reading:
- Understanding Texas Motorcycle Accident Law
- Personal Injury Defenses: Mitigation of Damages
- Personal Injury Defenses: The Competitive Sports Doctrine