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What is Negligence?

You have undoubtedly heard of the word “negligence”…but do you truly understand what it means to be negligent? What is negligence?

Negligence has multiple definitions but they all fall under the same umbrella. In law, negligence has a very specific meaning.

negligence explained

Negligence By Definition

Negligence in terms of law is defined as: “Conduct that falls below the standards of behavior established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm. A person has acted negligently if he or she has departed from the conduct expected of a reasonably prudent person acting under similar circumstances.”

Proving Negligence

In order to prove negligence has occurred, the following conditions must be proven:

Duty: A duty is a legal obligation. In order to have a legal claim, the defendant must have owed a duty to the plaintiff.

Breach: A breach is a violation of a law or duty. The defendant must breach their duty to be held liable for negligence. 

Cause: The breach of duty must be the direct cause of harm to the plaintiff.

Harm: The plaintiff must suffer harm in order to have a claim of negligence. Without harm, there is no lawsuit.

All four of these conditions must be met in order to have a valid legal claim against the defendant. The National Paralegal College has a great resource to explain the finer details of proving negligence.

negligence injury attorney

Examples of Negligence

There are many situations where negligence comes into play. Here are the most common negligence lawsuits in personal injury law:

Additional negligence can include intentional torts i.e. trespassing and absolute or strict liability torts i.e. defective products. 

Negligence Isn’t Enough

To simply say, “That was negligent,” is not enough to file a legal claim against a defendant. A personal injury lawyer must focus on the harm as much as the negligence.

The “But For” Test

An injury attorney must prove the harm was the direct causation and proximate cause of the breach of duty. There is a test the attorney can use to help determine if a claim meets the standards to prove negligence. This is where the “but for” test comes into play.

How The “But For” Test Works

For example, would the injury to the plaintiff have occurred “but for” the negligence of the defendant? Were these negligent actions a substantial factor that directly caused the outcome of injury?

In order to win a personal injury lawsuit due to negligence, the harm is just as important to prove as the negligent actions themselves.

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Were you injured due to the negligence of another? Contact us today to discuss the details of your case in a free consultation.