What is Negligence in Law? Understanding the Legal Definition of Negligence

February 1, 2023by LegalASAP

In many lawsuits, damages and culpability depend heavily on the concept of negligence. For the uninitiated, the concept of negligence can be somewhat confusing to parse. This blog serves to help define what negligence under the law means in lawsuits, and how you can determine if you’ve suffered from negligent behavior. We’ll also cover how a personal injury lawyer can help you understand the complex legal process, and pursue a negligence claim.

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Why establishing negligence matters

You’re  legally eligible to seek compensation for personal injuries resulting from an auto accident, defective product, medical carelessness, or a slip and fall at a store. You must prove negligence on behalf of the responsible person or entity to hold them legally responsible for the harm you suffered. 

What is negligence in law? Legally speaking, negligence is a person’s failure to behave reasonably and prevent foreseeable harm to likely victims.

Elements of negligence

Proving negligence is required in most claims—during informal settlement talks or personal injury lawsuits—from accidents or injuries. The following four elements play a crucial role in establishing the negligence of the defendant (the person allegedly at fault):

  1. Duty: you must prove the defendant owed a legal duty to you under the circumstances
  2. Breach: you must then prove the defendant breached their legal duty by acting (or failing to act) in a certain way
  3. Causation: you must establish that the defendant is responsible for your injury owing to their action (or inaction)
  4. Damages: you must show the nature and extent of your personal injury or property damage as a result of the defendant’s actions: medical or hospital expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering

Types of negligence 

Different negligence-related terms frequently appear in discussions of legal matters. You may often wonder: What is gross negligence? What is contributory negligence? Many people don’t understand that there’s a distinction between these terms. We’ll take you through them in some detail below:

Gross negligence

Defined as deliberate disregard and extreme carelessness for the safety and reasonable treatment of others. In such cases, you’re eligible for a higher claim from the responsible party, which may include punitive damages intended to punish the wrongdoer. For instance, a nursing home caretaker doesn’t provide the elderly patient with food or medicine for several days.

Contributory negligence

This is when the defendant isn’t completely at fault for the injuries but did contribute in some way. For instance, you had an accident when the other person was texting and driving while you were taking an illegal turn. In such cases, your fault will bar you from recovery. Currently, not many states adhere to contributory negligence systems since this can be harsh and unfair.

Comparative negligence

This type of negligence occurs when you’re partially responsible for the personal injury, and therefore share the blame with the defendant. An example would be slipping and injuring yourself on a wet floor despite the presence of wet floor signs. While under a contributory negligence system, any fault on your behalf will prevent you from seeking compensation, you may still recover for damages under comparative negligence. The liability will be determined by a jury, and the amount awarded is reduced by your percentage of fault.

Vicarious negligence

This is when someone is indirectly responsible for your injuries. For instance, you suffer a dog bite. Here, the dog owner can be found to be vicariously negligent or liable for any harm that results from their dog’s actions.

How an attorney helps determine negligence 

If you’ve been the victim of negligence, you may need legal assistance. Understanding legal rights under varied state laws can be an overwhelming and difficult process. A personal injury attorney knows what it takes to file a claim for negligence. They’ll assist you in navigating the complex process of initiating a claim and seeking justice under different circumstances. Legal representation will also help in establishing the negligence, and maximizing your compensation.

If you’re looking for the best lawyers for personal injury, contact LegalASAP today. You can also take our free evaluation to see if you qualify and get the legal help you need.

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© LegalASAP.com, Inc. All rights reserved.