Legal Blog


What Are The Elements Of Negligence


Negligence can be a legal theory. This is necessary in order to hold someone or a company responsible for any harm suffered. In most cases involving injuries or accidents, negligence must be proven. In court, negligence claims must show four things: duty, breach, and causation as well as damages/harm.

In general, if someone causes injury to another person by their carelessness, the law of negligence holds the careless person legally responsible for the harm. This method of assessing fault and determining liability is used in almost all disputes involving injury or accident, both in informal settlement talks and in court.

Element of a Negligence Claim

To win a negligence case, the plaintiff (the injured party) must prove that the defendant (the person allegedly responsible) has acted negligently.

  1. Duty The plaintiff owed a legal obligation to the defendant under these circumstances.
  2. Breach The defendant violated his legal duty by acting in or failing to act in certain ways;
  3. Cause – The plaintiff’s injury was actually caused by the defendant’s actions or inactions.
  4. Damages The plaintiff was injured or hurt by the actions of the defendant.

Element 1: Duty

The first step in assessing a negligence case is to determine if the defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty of care. Sometimes, the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant may create a legal obligation. For example, a doctor might owe a patient a legal responsibility to provide competent medical care. The defendant might owe the plaintiff a duty to exercise reasonable care in certain situations, such as when one is required to drive a motor vehicle safely with a minimum of care.

Element 2: Breach of Duty

The court will then examine whether the defendant violated this duty by doing or not doing what a ” reasonably wise person would do in similar circumstances. “Reasonably prudent person” is a legal standard that describes how an average person would act in a given situation. Simply put, the defendant is likely to be found negligent if an average person, having knowledge of the defendant’s actions at the time, knew that someone could have been hurt and would have acted differently in that situation.

Element #3: Causation

The third element requires the plaintiff to prove that the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s injury. While it is possible for someone to act negligently, the plaintiff cannot recover if the negligence caused the injury. It wouldn’t be fair, for example, to sue someone negligently texting while driving for an unrelated fender bender just across the street.

Another aspect of this element examines whether the defendant could reasonably foresee that his or her actions might result in injury. The injury that the defendant caused to the plaintiff would be considered unforeseeable if it was caused by an unexpected, random act of nature. In this case, the defendant is unlikely to be held liable.

Element 4: Damages

damages are the final element in a negligence case. This element is required that the court can compensate the plaintiff for the injury. Usually, this will be through monetary compensation.

Do you need help proving fault? An injury lawyer can help

A potential legal claim could be worthwhile if you or your loved one have been hurt by negligence. This is especially true if you’ve had to pay medical bills and miss work. To learn more, meet with an experienced injury lawyer.

This article was written by Alla Tenina. Alla is a top San Fernando Valley personal injury lawyer, and the founder of Tenina law. She has experience in bankruptcies, real estate planning, and complex tax matters. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. This website contains links to other third-party websites. Such links are only for the convenience of the reader, user or browser; the ABA and its members do not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites.