A negligence claim generally has two phases. The first phase is liability, and the second phase would be damages. This isn’t just for negligence claims but all civil lawsuits. A liability stage, you are looking at whose fault was it and what percent of fault was it? Was it 100% responsible for a person? 20, 30, 40, 51%? In criminal law, people are found guilty or not guilty. If they’re found guilty, the question then becomes how much time, or what should the punishment be. In the civil arena, it is essentially the same thing. The first thing is, is that person liable for my injuries, and if so, how much should I get? That takes us to the second part which is damages. What are the damages that I have incurred? Did I have a cut pinky? Did I lose an arm? Did I have a loved one who was killed? All of those things affect the ultimate amount of money that a person can give.
There are two different steps on most civil lawsuits. Number one, is the person liable for my injury? And number two, if they are liable, what are my damages and how much should I get?