A common and rational post-accident question asked by many injured people is, “How could I have avoided this?” Often enough, the answer involves a Colorado establishment that behaved more responsibly. 

According to FindLaw, there are four components in negligence, and a court must prove all of them before it can rule that a party is liable for your injury. 

Damages 

Although compensation is typically the final element decided in negligence litigation, it is usually the driving factor in a personal injury case. Damages measured in a dollar amount, such as broken bones, are the only recourses available in a civil negligence lawsuit. For example, even if a court proves the three remaining negligence factors for your slip on a wet restaurant floor, you generally cannot sue the company if you did not actually fall and injure yourself. 

Duty of care 

Determining negligent fault begins with recognizing a condition or situation where the defendant had a duty to act with concern for your safety. Using the previous example: A restaurant’s staff is duty-bound to keep all of the publicly accessible floors clean and dry to prevent you from slipping and falling. However, the company is not responsible for your safety in an area marked clearly as “Employees Only,” such as the kitchen or dock area. 

Breach of duty 

Next, the court must prove the restaurant breached its duty of care or failed to act with reasonable concern for your safety. If a server spilled a drink on a main walking surface, immediately placed a yellow “Wet Floor” sign on the mess and went to gather towels, he or she upheld the duty of care and likely was not negligent. Conversely, if the server ignored the spill and continued to work, the restaurant could be responsible for breach of duty. 

Causation 

Finally, the court must link the breach of duty directly to the injury for which you seek damages. If you sue the restaurant to recover the hospital costs for a broken leg, you must prove that the break occurred because you slipped and fell on the abandoned spill. 

All four of these elements combined show that the restaurant could have prevented your injury and owes you compensation for the costs.