Most personal injury claims are based on negligence: that the defendant negligently injured the plaintiff. To prove a claim of negligence, the plaintiff must show four things, called the prima facie case for negligence:
1. Duty—a statement of the facts that establishes the legal relationship between the plaintiff and defendant.
2. Breach of the duty to the plaintiff—a statement of facts that illustrate that the defendant breached a legal duty owed the patient. In medical malpractice, this means that the defendant provided medical care that fell below the legally required standard.
3. Causation—that the breach of the defendant’s duty caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
4. Damages—the monetary value of the plaintiff’s injuries
Upon the filing of these claims, the defendant may ask the judge to dismiss the plaintiff’s lawsuit for deficiencies in prima facie case. For the purpose of a motion to dismiss, the judge will assume that the facts presented by the plaintiff are correct. If, despite this assumption, the plaintiff’s prima facie case is incomplete or legally unfounded, it may be dismissed, or the plaintiff may be given an opportunity to amend it to satisfy the defense’s objections. During the pretrial phase of the lawsuit, the plaintiff must present legally sufficient evidence to support the allegations in the prima facie case.