What is Negligence?

There are quite a few different issues to consider when it comes to civil lawsuits. Some such things are  personal injury, property damage, and other such civil cases, but one element of several different types of civil cases that you will often see is negligence. Understanding what negligence is, as well as how to prove it and defend against it, is often the first step towards a successful civil claim. Additionally, here is what you need to know about negligence.

The 4 Elements of Negligence & Common Examples of Proving It

So, what exactly is negligence? Negligence in its most basic form is the careless abandon of any reasonable form of responsibility. Usually, this involves someone being injured as the result of someone else’s carelessness. There are primarily 4 elements that are tied to negligence that need to be established in many civil cases. These are: Duty, Breach, Causation, and Damages.

  • Duty: This is when the defendant, or the one being accused, was under a binding or legal duty owed to the plaintiff under a set of circumstances;
  • Breach: This refers to when the defendant has broken, or strayed away from, the legal duty that they were bound to by the plaintiff by either failing to act in a certain way, or some form of not following the legal duty.
  • Causation: This refers to the defendant being tied to the plaintiff’s injury through failure of completing the legal duty.
  • Damages: This refers to the extent of the injury or harm that the Plaintiff suffered as a result of the defendant’s actions.

Each one can be quite difficult, or easy, depending on the case, to prove. For Duty, the case must be made that there was a legal obligation and duty to the plaintiff in some way. This can come in many different forms, such as a doctor having the legal obligation to give a patient the proper treatment and care. In terms of a business, something like warehouse work, the defendant may have had a legal duty to provide proper safety training and equipment to the plaintiff.

For Breach, one must be able to show that the legal duty and obligation was broken in some way or form. Things like safety equipment not being properly treated and taken care of, or not being provided adequate training before the start of a job, or a doctor skipping treatment options or shortcutting on medical equipment and medicines.

For Causation, there must be link between the breach of the duty, and that it was the reason, or at least one of the reasons, that the plaintiff was injured. The tie between the damages done and the breach of the duty must be clear and proven to be considered true.

For Damages, there must be some form of damages that can be confirmed by another party. These can be either physical, or mental/emotional. For damages to be relevant, the court must be able to have the defendant compensate the plaintiff in some way. This usually comes in the form of flat payments or covering expenses, such as covering medical bills and costs.

Different Types of Negligence

There are a few different types of negligence cases that can float around, and they tend to have different injuries and examples tied to them. The most prominent types of negligence are:

  • Gross Negligence
  • Comparative Negligence
  • Contributory Negligence
  • Mixed Contributory & Comparative Negligence
  • Vicarious Liability

Gross Negligence can be understood best while using the pedestrian example. If a driver is driving through a 40 mph area, and is going 65 mph, it is considered negligence of an ordinary degree. But, gross negligence would be a case where a driver is going 65 mph in a 40 mph while there are multitudes of pedestrians and groups of school children walking about. This can also be seen in cases of a doctor perhaps prescribing medication for a patient that clearly has an allergy associated with the medication. As such, gross negligence is seen as the obvious and blatant disregard of safety towards the public or plaintiff.

Comparative Negligence is best used when dealing with cases of divorce, or where both the defendant and plaintiff were both at fault to some degree. As such, in these cases, the judge may state that each party is at fault to a percentage. This percentage is then used to allocate a payout of shares for both sides damages. For instance, if both a worker and the company are at fault, the judge may rule 70% for the company, and 30% for the worker in terms of who is at fault. Thus, the company would need to pay 70% of what the worker asked for, while the worker would need to pay 30% of the company’s damages.

Contributory Negligence is used when the defendant is also to blame, but the judge handles the case in a slightly different manner than to comparative negligence. Instead of a percentage difference, the judge will rule that the amount requested by the defendant be paid, minus an amount set by the judge that is totaled from what the judge deems as necessary for the defendant’s negligence in the case as well. For instance, if the defendant asked for $100,000 in damages and was found to also be negligent, the plaintiff may only need to pay out $60,000 to the defendant.

In cases of Comparative & Contributory Negligence, the judge does a fusion of both sides, thus making it a bit more fair for both the plaintiff and defendant as the judge sees fit.

With Vicarious Liability, there are usually two parties that have worked in tandem together in an improper manner, or sometimes straight up illegal manner. This will usually help implicate that, if a member of a conspiracy or illegal activity has been held, as long as the crimes committed with the other parties were able to be foreseen, and if they were committed with the intention of furthering the objective of the illegal activity.

No matter the cause, or the issues that come up, it is always important to get a proper negligence lawyer to help you with your case. Whether you are the plaintiff, or the defendant, your safety is the topmost concern, and how the case is viewed can determine how much you are paid. Leaving no loopholes available, an experienced negligence lawyer will ensure that all the facts are covered, and that you get the proper care that you deserve, and that you fully understand everything that is going on in the case.

This is where SteinLaw can assist you. Our team of experienced legal professionals are here to help you progress your personal injury case from start to finish. Call one of our many personal injury lawyer Florida office locations today to set up a consultation for your case.