How to Prove Negligence in a Personal Injury Case in MA

If you sustained an injury that you suspect someone else caused through their negligence, you may be able to recover compensation through a lawsuit. Personal injury lawsuits can be the best method to achieve the financial comfort necessary for a full recovery. However, you may have questions about what exactly goes into a successful personal injury lawsuit in Massachusetts.

To win a personal injury lawsuit in court on a theory of negligence, you must show that the defendant owed you a duty of care that they breached. You must also demonstrate that their breach of duty was the cause of your injuries, which you can recover for in damages. Proving these facets of negligence will require the introduction of various kinds of evidence. Your lawyer can help you gather, prepare, and introduce this evidence so that you have the best possible chance of recovery.

If you are interested in learning more about how a personal injury lawsuit for negligence can benefit you, call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan. Our experienced Boston personal injury attorneys offer free initial consultations to all potential clients. To schedule yours today, call us at (617) 925-6407.

Elements of Negligence in a Personal Injury Case in MA

In order to prove negligence in your personal injury lawsuit in Massachusetts, you will have to satisfy the four traditional elements of negligence. Those elements are duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and injuries. Below are summaries of each these elements and what proving them may entail in your case.

Duty of Care

In negligence cases, the defendant must owe the plaintiff some level of responsibility for their well-being. This is referred to as a duty of care. The duty of care can be created by some contractual or circumstantial relationship, such as a doctor and patient or a property owner and a guest. The standard of care will depend on the nature of the relationship. To use the above example, a doctor’s responsibilities to their patient are defined by the reasonable skill level of another medical professional in the same field, which will be much higher than the average person. Therefore, the burden that doctors must meet to satisfy their duty is much higher than that of a property owner.

Breach of Duty

Not only must you show the existence and nature of the legal responsibility between defendant and plaintiff, but you must also show that the defendant breached that duty. The breach element is satisfied by a showing that the defendant’s actions (or inactions) fell short of what would be reasonably expected of someone else in the same situation.


Once you have proven duty of care and breach, you have shown that the defendant was negligent. However, you still must demonstrate that the negligence caused the accident or harm that the plaintiff sustained. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently confirmed that personal injury cases should use the “but for” test for determining causation. Essentially, you must show that your harms would not have occurred “but for” the defendant’s negligence.


The last step in a personal injury lawsuit for negligence is proving that the injuries you suffered as a result of the accident are compensable. This is important because the goal of a personal injury lawsuit is to win compensation that is meant to address your injuries. If your injuries didn’t require medical care or cause you financial harm or emotional distress, you will have a difficult time recovering compensation as a result of negligence. Your Cambridge personal injury lawyer can help answer some of the questions you may have about the potential value of your case.

Types of Evidence Used to Prove Negligence in a Personal Injury Case in MA

You will need to introduce evidence to back up your arguments on each of the four critical elements of negligence. This evidence could come in several different forms. Below are some of the critical evidentiary pieces that you should be aware of for most negligence lawsuits.

Physical Evidence

You should try your best to retain any tangible items that played a role in your injury. If you suffered injury due to a defective product, be sure to retain as much of the product as possible (while keeping it in a safe place that won’t cause you further harm). Your attorney can store physical evidence for you to keep it safe from misplacement or tampering.

Photos and Videos

Sometimes, when you won’t be able to obtain physical evidence, photos and videos of the scene of the accident can be important. This is particularly helpful if you are involved in a car accident, where pictures of the scene of the accident or the damage to the car can add context to the circumstances that led to the accident or the force of the collision.

Medical Records

Documentation of your injuries will be incredibly important for demonstrating not only that the negligence was the cause of the injuries, but also that the injuries are real and consequential. You should always seek medical attention as soon as possible after you suspect you have suffered a personal injury.

Expert Witnesses

In almost every personal injury case for negligence, successful plaintiffs will be required to introduce expert testimony. Experts in the defendant’s field can testify to common practices in their line of work in order to establish the standard of care. Medical experts can explain complex diagnoses and their likely impact on the plaintiff’s quality of life. Financial experts can help quantify the harms that the plaintiff has suffered for the purposes of damages, particularly if the plaintiff is seeking compensation for lost wages or decreased earning potential due to their injuries. Your Somerville personal injury lawyer will help you obtain and prepare expert testimony that will help you recover in your negligence lawsuit.

More Questions About Proving Negligence in Your MA Personal Injury Case? Call Us Today

You deserve to know the facts about your ability to recover for your personal injury caused by negligence in Massachusetts. The seasoned Wakefield personal injury lawyers at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan can help. Call us to schedule your free consultation today at (617) 925-6407.

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