How is Negligence Determined Legally?

Written by Andrew Traub

May 23, 2014

What is negligence? Negligence is conduct that falls below the standards of behavior established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm. A person has acted negligently if he or she has departed from the conduct expected of a reasonable prudent person acting under similar circumstances.

In order to establish negligence as a cause of action, or reason to seek legal action, the plaintiff’s case must satisfy several things.

  1. A plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a duty to the plaintiff.
  2. That the defendant breached that duty by failing to conform to the required standard of conduct.
  3. The defendant’s negligent conduct was the cause of the harm to the plaintiff.
  4. That the plaintiff was in fact harmed or damaged.

Can a person be liable for the negligence of another? Yes, a person can be held responsible for the actions of someone else. An example would be if an employee harms a customer of a business, then the owner of the business can be held liable.

What are some defenses to negligence? Contributory Negligence is where the plaintiff caused their own injuries or failed to protect themselves from predictable risks. An example would be if someone knew of a danger and proceeded into harm’s way anyway, then this would be a contributory negligence and the defendant might be relieved from liability. Of course, the plaintiff must be proved to have knowledge of the dangers at hand prior to putting themselves in danger.

Gross Negligence is negligence that means conduct or a failure to act that is so reckless that is demonstrates a substantial lack of concern for whether an injury will result. It is sometimes necessary to establish “gross negligence” as opposed to “ordinary negligence” in order to overcome a legal impediment to a lawsuit.

An example of gross negligence would be driving drunk or texting while driving.

If you have been injured in an accident and would like to know your legal rights, please call our law office at (512) 343-2572 or contact us online. Our lawyers can help you recover medical expenses, lost wages, and money for pain and suffering.

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