What constitutes negligence?

In order to win a negligence case, the injured person (the plaintiff) must prove four elements to show that the accused (the defendant) acted negligently and is, therefore, to blame for the injury.


The first element is determining whether the defendant had a legal duty of care. For instance, a doctor has a legal duty to provide their patients with competent medical care. Also, the owner of a trucking company has a duty to ensure his or her drivers are licensed and can operate a commercial motor vehicle safely and with a certain level of due care.

Breach of Duty

The plaintiff must also prove the defendant breached his or her duty by doing (or not doing) something that a “reasonably prudent person” would have done under the same circumstances. This is the common legal standard to determine whether someone acted with negligence. In simple terms, it means everyone is expected to exercise average care, skill, and judgment in conduct that society requires of its members for the protection of their own and others’ interests.


The third requirement is that the plaintiff prove that the defendant’s negligence actually caused the injury in question. A defendant might have been negligent in some manner, but the plaintiff can only recover damages if it can be shown that the negligence somehow caused the injury. Furthermore, it must be shown that the defendant reasonably could have foreseen that his or her actions might cause an injury.


Finally, the defendant must show that the plaintiff suffered harm as a result of the defendant’s actions (or inaction). If a plaintiff does not suffer harm, he or she cannot sue for negligence. Keep in mind that there are several possible defenses to a charge of negligence. You and your attorney should discuss them to see if the defendant has insulated himself from liability.
For more information, I invite you to visit my website at: www.jgonzalezlawfirm.com.
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