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Torts 101: The 4th Element, No Damages Means No Case


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11/7/2014
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Another question from a store patron asking about a lawsuit, but one without damages. The question being, should I sue?

Question: Is the store negligent? Who do I sue and for what after a van crashes in the store where I am in, but I am not hurt?  A few days ago I am shopping at a store. I went to unload my groceries and I notice a van approximately 2/10 of a mile away parked at an angle revving the engine. I took note of the revving engine, but don't think too much about it. A few minutes later, the van driver intentionally accelerated and crashed into the store. Can I sue for damages? Supposedly, the van was driving erratically in the parking lot prior to crashing.

Answer: You should sue no one and you will not win with any lawsuit you file. Why, because you cannot prove damages. That is the fourth element of any tort action. All personal injury claims are essentially tort claims. Workers' compensation claims are not in the district court and have their own set of proof rules, so work related injuries have been removed from the tort law and are litigated before a different tribuanal. 

Let us remember there are four basic things you must prove in any tort case. And yours is a tort case.

Those four elements of any tort claim are:

  1. The offender had a duty.
  2. The offender breached that duty.
  3. You were damaged.
  4. Your damages were proximately caused by the offender’s breach of duty.

Here is where your claim fails, you have no damages and therefore you have no claim.

Remember you need all four elements not just three, not two and certainly not one. You have to prove all four.

Good luck and if in the future we can help give us a call.



Category: Property & Real Estate Injuries


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