• Michael H. Ricca,
  •   None

Personal injury claims are handled through the civil courts. These lawsuits can be quite costly. Whether you are considering filing a personal injury claim or find yourself being sued for one, it is important to understand what it takes to prove negligence.


Personal injuries fall under “tort law” in New York State. If you have been injured as the result of someone else’s negligence, tort laws allow you to seek compensation and justice for these injuries.

You need to note that an injury must have occurred in order to seek compensation. For example, let us look at two slip and fall scenarios.

  • Walk Away: Not all slip and falls result in injuries. In many situations, a person may slip, fall, and get up and walk away without a bruise. In this scenario, there would be no injury for which you could seek compensation for. Your ego may be bruised, but the rest of you is fine.
  • Broken Wrist: Not everyone gets up and walks away from a slip and fall, however. If you slip, fall, and break your wrist, for example, you will accrue medical bills. You may even need to take time off from work, have issues driving, or suffer from other impacts to your daily life. If you broke your wrist as a result of a fall on someone else’s property, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against them seeking compensation for the injury and related expenses.

    Proving negligence is one of the key deciding factors in a personal injury claim. As such, it is very important that both the claimant and the defendant understand what it takes to prove negligence.

    Duty of Care

    Duty of care refers to the defendant’s responsibility to provide a safe environment to the injured party, also known as the plaintiff. While accommodations must be considered “reasonable” in the least, establishing the duty of care is the first element in proving negligence.

    Example: When you operate a motor vehicle, you have the duty to drive in a safe and reasonable manner, in accordance with the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Laws. This duty provides reasonable care for all those around you, including other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.

    Breach of Duty

    Breach of duty is what occurs when that duty has been disregarded in some way. Whether intentional or not, this breach may lead to damages or injuries to others.

    Example: As the driver of a car, when you choose to text or call someone while operating a motor vehicle, you are in breach of your duty to drive in a safe and responsible manner.


    After establishing duty and identifying the breach, it must be proven that the breach can be considered the proximate cause of the injuries sustained by the plaintiff.

    Example: While you were texting and driving, your attention is diverted from the road. If you hit a pedestrian in the crosswalk while texting and driving, it is highly likely that this act will be immediately linked to the injuries caused when the car struck the plaintiff.


    The plaintiff must be able to present quantifiable damages. This may include medical bills, lost wages, and other such items that are related to the injuries they sustained. Emotional trauma may also be assessed and claimed.

    Example: After hitting the pedestrian, they needed an ambulance. Once brought to the emergency room, it was determined that they had a concussion, broken ribs, and a dislocated shoulder. Not only did they receive a bill for the ambulance trip, emergency room visit, and medical care they received – they also were hit with follow up doctor’s appointments, medication expenses, and missed work. They also find themselves having severe anxiety around roads and struggle to cope with the emotional trauma caused by the accident. All of this may be considered part of the damages being sought by the plaintiff in compensation for the injuries caused by the accident.


    You should note that New York State does have a statute of limitations on personal injury claims.

    For the majority of all personal injury claims, the general statute of limitation is 3 years since sustaining the injury. If an individual dies as the result of their personal injury, however, the family has 2 years to file a claim. If you believe your injuries have been caused by medical malpractice, you likely have 2.5 years to file a claim. If the injury occurred as the result of government negligence, however, you only have 1 year to file a personal injury claim.


    Guidelines are just that. They provide a general rule of thumb by which a judge must make a determination. There are always exceptions to the rule. That being said, personal injury cases can take time. There are ample opportunities for the defense to delay proceedings through tactical legal maneuvers.

    This means it is important for you to seek the help of an experienced attorney as soon as possible after an injury has occurred. This is true for both the plaintiff and defendant.

    At The Law Offices of Michael H. Ricca P.C., we believe your voice should be heard. Whichever side of the table you sit on, we sit with you.

    As an experienced defense law firm, we strive to disprove false claims against you and minimize any damages being sought. It is no secret that some people try to claim injuries or damages that are beyond reasonable. We vigorously fight these claims against you and help protect you from unreasonable claims.

    As representation for the plaintiff, we also want to protect you. No one should suffer because another individual has acted negligently! If you have been injured because of someone else’s negligence, you deserve the maximum compensation possible.

    If you or a loved one has been injured or is being sued for an injury, contact The Law Offices of Michael H. Ricca P.C. today for your free consultation at (516) 500-1647).

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