Prima Facie Case


A prima facie case of negligence forms the cornerstone of personal injury law, serving as the preliminary step to proving negligence and establishing the liability of one party for harm suffered by another. In essence, prima facie negligence requires the demonstration of four critical elements to secure a successful personal injury claim: duty of care, the defendant’s negligence means a breach of duty, the breach of duty was the actual cause or proximate cause of the accident or personal injury, and the accident or harm caused damages.

These elements collectively provide a structured framework to prove that the defendant’s actions or defendant’s negligence directly resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries, thereby warranting compensation. 

San Antonio personal injury attorneys at Janicek Law are here to explain everything you need to know about a prima facie negligence case before you file a prima facie negligence claim.

If you need help to prove negligence and recover damages, call Janicek Law at 210-366-4949 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Prima Facie Case of Negligence

A prima facie negligence case is the initial step in tort law to prove that a defendant acted in a way that was careless or negligent, and the defendant’s actions or the defendant’s negligence led to a plaintiff’s harm.

Coming from a Latin phrase, prima facie means “at first sight” or “on the face of it.” In legal terms, prima facie evidence, unless contradictory evidence exists, would be enough evidence to prove a particular proposition or fact. In the context of personal injury law, establishing a prima facie case of negligence is crucial for the injured party (plaintiff) to proceed with a lawsuit against the party alleged to be at fault (defendant).

What is Required to Establish a Prima Facie Case of Negligence in Texas?

prima facia neglignce case texas

To prove prima facie negligence claims, plaintiffs must convincingly demonstrate four key elements: Duty of Care, Breached Duty of Care, Causation, and Damages.

Duty of Care

The duty of care is a legal obligation or legal duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff. The legal duty owed varies depending on the relationship between the parties and the situation, based on the reasonable person standard.

Breached Duty of Care

Once a duty of care is established, the plaintiff must then prove that the defendant breached this duty of care. A breach of duty occurs when the defendant’s actions fall short of the standard of care a reasonable person would act with under the same circumstances or similar circumstances.

To prove that a defendant breached their duty of care, the plaintiff must present sufficient evidence. This prima facie evidence could include photos of the personal injury or the accident scene, medical records connected to the injuries the plaintiff suffered, police reports, surveillance camera footage, etc.

If the plaintiff doesn’t provide enough evidence to prove the person’s negligent actions or the defendant presents contradictory evidence, then the plaintiff likely won’t be able to recover damages because there was no legal breach of duty.


Causation requires showing that the defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the plaintiff’s injury. This involves proving cause in fact (“but for” the defendant’s negligence, the injury would not have occurred) as the actual cause of the personal injury, as well as establishing proximate cause (the personal injury was a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s actions).


The final element required to prove prima facie negligence is proving that the plaintiff suffered actual damages as a result of the defendant’s breach. Actual damages can include physical injuries that lead to medical expenses, financial losses, and emotional distress.

If these four elements are met, the at-fault party can be held liable in a prima facie case.

Common Prima Facie Negligence Case Types We Handle

At Janicek Law, our experienced personal injury attorney team has the skill and experience to handle a wide variety of prima facie cases in San Antonio, such as motor vehicle accidents, boating accidents, premises liability cases, product liability accidents, and dangerous drug injuries.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Prima Facie Case of Negligence

Motor vehicle accidents are the most common examples of prima facie negligence cases. A car accident leading to a personal injury claim results from the negligence of a driver.

These liability cases have the potential for significant bodily harm – such as traumatic brain injuries or other head and neck injuries, for example – as well as damages. Establishing obvious negligence in prima facie cases typically involves proving that a driver engaged in reckless behavior or was otherwise not exercising reasonable care under the circumstances.

If you or a loved one has suffered catastrophic injuries or wrongful death due to a motor vehicle accident, reach out to a San Antonio car accident attorney today.

Boating Accidents

Prima Facie Negligence Case San Antonio

Boating accidents, while less frequent than motor vehicle incidents, can lead to severe injuries, such as head and neck injuries, and complex legal challenges.

These accidents can occur on various watercraft and can be caused by operator inattention, intoxication, inadequate training, equipment failure, or violations of maritime laws. The dynamics of boating accidents often involve unique considerations, such as maritime law and the specific duties owed by boat operators to their passengers and others on the water. 

Our San Antonio boat accident attorneys have what it takes to navigate the complexities of maritime law and determine negligence for Horseshoe Bay boat accidents and our Marble Falls boat accidents.

Premises Liability Accidents

What is Required to Establish a Prima Facie Case of Negligence

Premises liability accidents encompass a wide range of incidents that occur on someone else’s property due to unsafe conditions or negligence on the part of the property owner or occupier.

We see the following common examples in San Antonio: slip and fall accidents, inadequate security leading to assault or injury, workplace accidents, swimming pool accidents, and injuries from hazardous materials. Property owners have a legal duty to ensure their premises are reasonably safe for visitors, and failure to maintain the property or to warn of dangerous conditions can result in liability for injuries sustained.

If the negligent behavior of a property owner caused you or a loved one to suffer serious injuries or wrongful death, schedule a free consultation with a San Antonio premises liability attorney today.

Product Liability Accidents

Negligence Per Se

Product liability accidents involve injuries caused by defective or unsafe products. These incidents can stem from flaws in design, manufacturing errors, or failures to provide adequate warnings or instructions. Products ranging from household appliances and children’s toys to vehicles and industrial equipment can pose risks if not properly designed, manufactured, and tested.

Holding manufacturers and sellers accountable requires demonstrating that the product was defective and that this defect directly led to the injury. Our San Antonio product liability attorneys have decades of combined experience in proving prima facie negligence in these types of cases.

Dangerous Drug Injuries

Dangerous drug injuries involve harm caused by the use of prescription or over-the-counter medications that have adverse effects. These negligence cases can arise from drugs that have unexpected side effects, are improperly marketed, or lack sufficient warnings for consumers and healthcare professionals.

Pharmaceutical companies have a duty to ensure their products are safe and effective when used as intended, and a breach of duty can lead to serious health consequences for patients. Pursuing negligence claims in this area can be complex, involving detailed analysis of pharmaceutical regulations, drug testing procedures, and the drug’s impact on patients.

Be sure to contact a San Antonio drug injury attorney for more information.

negligence per se definition

Medical Malpractice

In the realm of medical malpractice, establishing prima facie negligence requires proving four critical elements: a duty of care was owed by the healthcare provider, the defendant breached this duty, the breach caused an injury, and the injury led to specific damages.

Our San Antonio medical malpractice attorneys are proficient in demonstrating these elements, particularly how a deviation from standard medical practices led to adverse patient outcomes. By meticulously analyzing medical records and collaborating with medical experts, Janicek Law ensures that victims of medical negligence receive the justice and compensation they deserve.

Wrongful Death

In wrongful death claims, prima facie negligence is equally pivotal. The San Antonio wrongful death lawyers at Janicek Law rigorously work to show that the deceased’s death was a direct result of another party’s negligent or reckless actions. This involves proving that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased, breached that duty through negligent actions, and directly caused the death, leading to measurable damages to the family.

Prima Facie Negligence vs. Negligence Per Se

One question that our San Antonio personal injury attorneys frequently get is: what’s the difference between a prima facie negligence case and a negligence per se case?

As previously explained, prima facie negligence involves establishing the fundamental elements that demonstrate a party’s failure to exercise a standard level of care, leading to harm or injury to another.

This legal concept requires the injured party (plaintiff) to prove that the defendant had a duty to act or refrain from acting in a certain way, the defendant breached that duty, and directly caused injuries as a result. The emphasis is on the defendant’s failure to meet the expected standard of care in the specific circumstances, which necessitates a detailed examination of the actions and context leading to the injury.

Negligence per se, on the other hand, is a legal doctrine that comes into play when a defendant’s act is considered negligent because it violates a statute or regulation. This doctrine simplifies the plaintiff’s burden of proof by eliminating the need to establish that the defendant owed a duty of care and breached that duty.

Instead, if the plaintiff can show that the defendant violated a law designed to protect against the type of harm that occurred, that violation is automatically considered negligence. This approach is particularly applicable in cases where the defendant’s actions contravene safety laws, such as traffic violations or building codes, directly leading to the plaintiff’s injuries.

Damages for Personal Injury Cases

negligence per se example

In personal injury cases, damages are monetary compensations awarded to the injured party (plaintiff) to cover the losses incurred due to the negligence of another party (defendant).

  • Medical expenses: Costs for hospital stays, doctor visits, physical therapy, medications, and any future medical care related to the injury.
  • Lost wages: including lost earning capacity.
  • Property damage: Costs to repair or replace personal property damaged as a result of the incident, such as a vehicle in a car accident.
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Emotional distress

Although less common, punitive damages may be awarded in cases where gross negligence was involved or the defendant acted with malicious intent.

Each personal injury case is unique, and the types and amounts of damages awarded will depend on the specifics of the case, including the severity of the injury, the impact on the plaintiff’s life, and applicable state laws.

San Antonio Personal Injury Attorneys for Prima Facie Negligence Cases

If you believe you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, it is crucial to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can evaluate your case and guide you through the legal process. Janicek Law in San Antonio, TX, has a proven track record of advocating for the rights of injury victims.

Our team has a thorough understanding of Texas law and is dedicated to ensuring that you receive the compensation you deserve in your prima facie negligence claim. Contact us today at 210-366-4949 to discuss your case and learn how we can help you build a strong prima facie case of negligence.


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