What is the Legal Definition of Negligence?

What is the Legal Definition of Negligence?

Negligence and Personal Injury

In a personal injury claim relating to negligence, it is important to fully understand the definition of negligence and what can and cannot be considered such. In the most basic form, negligence can be described as the failure to take action that you are either legally or ethically bound to take that results in negative consequences for the concerned party (i.e. you). Here is the process involved in determining whether or not negligence is an appropriate ruling in a personal injury case:

1. Was the Defendant Liable to Act?

The first and understandably most important step of determining a negligence ruling is determining whether or not the defendant is responsible for the ill-fate that became the plaintiff. The following are several circumstances that may constitute a duty to act, thus opening the door to consider a failure (or “breach”) of duty to act:

  • Was the defendant aware of the potential for harm to befall the plaintiff?
  • Was the defendant party to a relationship that delegated the responsibility of the wellbeing of the plaintiff, such as a landowner and a guest on the property?
  • Did the defendant volunteer to care for the wellbeing of the plaintiff?

If you said yes to any of these questions as they apply to your specific situation, consider consulting with a lawyer to determine the possibility of a negligence ruling.

2. Was There an Injury Resulting from the Failure to Act?

The next step in determining a negligence ruling is verifying that an injury actually occurred. This can manifest as physical harm or emotional harm such as broken bones or PTSD, or damage to capital. Most often, a solely economic loss is unlikely to constitute a negligence ruling on its own. Every case is different, so it’s important to understand all of your options and the odds of producing the outcome you seek. A lawyer can help you weigh your choices.

If a jury decides that both the defendant was liable to act in the concerned event and that injury to person resulted from the defendant’s failure to act where they were obligated to, then they are likely to push for a negligence settlement. Depending on whether the negligence is ruled civil or criminal, the defendant could be required to pay damages or face jail time. Consider scheduling a consultation with a personal injury lawyer from a firm like Greenspan & Greenspan P.C if you believe there is cause for a negligence ruling in your personal injury case, as they will be able to give you much more concrete and personalized answers.