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Legal Dictionary

negligence

Legal Definition of negligence

Noun

  1. Not only are people responsible for the intentional harm they cause, but their failure to act as a reasonable person would be expected to act in similar circumstances (i.e. "negligence") will also give rise to compensation. Negligence, if it causes injury to another, can give rise to a liability suit under tort. Negligence is always assessed having regards to the circumstances and to the standard of care which would reasonably be expected of a person in similar circumstances. Everybody has a duty to ensure that their actions do not cause harm to others. Between negligence and the intentional act there lies yet another, more serious type of negligence which is called gross negligence. Gross negligence is any action or an omission in reckless disregard of the consequences to the safety or property of another.

See also


Definition of negligence

Noun

negligence (usually uncountable; plural negligences)

  1. The state of being negligent
  2. (law) (singular only) The tort whereby a duty of reasonable care was breached, causing damage: any conduct short of intentional or reckless action that falls below the legal standard for preventing unreasonable injury.

  3. (law) (uncountable) The breach of a duty of care: the failure to exercise a standard of care that a reasonable person would have in a similar situation.

Usage notes

    The breach of a duty of care is one element of the tort of negligence, but is also called negligence; one must therefore take care to clarify what is meant.

Further reading

Negligence (Lat. negligentia, from neglegere, to neglect, literally "not to pick up something") is a failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances. The area of tort law known as negligence involves harm caused by carelessness, not intentional harm.

According to Jay M. Feinman of the Rutgers University School of Law, "The core idea of negligence is that people should exercise reasonable care when they act by taking account of the potential harm that they might foreseeably cause to other people."

    "those who go personally or bring property where they know that they or it may come into collision with the persons or property of others have by law a duty cast upon them to use reasonable care and skill to avoid such a collision." Fletcher v Rylands ([1866] LR 1 Ex 265)

Through civil litigation, if an injured person proves that another person acted negligently to cause his injury, he can recover damages to compensate for his harm. Proving a case for negligence can potentially entitle the injured plaintiff to compensation for harm to their body, property, mental well-being, financial status, or intimate relationships. However, because negligence cases are very fact-specific, this general definition does not fully explain the concept of when the law will require one person to compensate another for losses caused by accidental injury. Further, the law of negligence at common law is only one aspect of the law of liability. Although resulting damages must be proven in order to recover compensation in a negligence action, the nature and extent of those damages are not the primary focus of negligence cases.

Elements of negligence claims

Negligence suits have historically been analyzed in stages, called elements, similar to the analysis of crimes. An important concept related to elements is that if a plaintiff fails to prove any one element of his claim, he loses on the entire tort claim. For example, let's assume that a particular tort has five elements. Each element must be proven. If the plaintiff proves only four of the five elements, the plaintiff has not succeeded in making out his claim.

Source: Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.




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