Legal Definition of Negligence?

Man holding up his hands that say care less

Legal Definition Of Negligence: You may have noticed that when big lawsuits make the news. The jury in the case is often asked to figure out if one of the parties was “negligent“. But just what does it mean to say that someone is negligent, in a legal sense?

Someone was careless.

negligence word cloud

The answer is that it means pretty much the same as it does in everyday conversation-that someone was careless. A basic statement of legal negligence is that a person: “Did not act as a reasonably prudent person would under the same circumstances”. However, a finding that a person has been legally negligent involves several different elements.

“Breached” a duty owed to others.

For example, most people would agree that a driver who runs a stop sign and hits a pedestrian has been careless. But has he been negligent? To find legal negligence, a court must first find that the person “breached” a duty owed to others. In our example, every driver owes a duty to others to be careful when driving a car, and running a stop sign violates this duty.

Must cause damage

The negligent act must also cause damage. If the driver broke the pedestrian’s arm, this injury could mean that the driver was negligent. Finally, the damage caused by the negligence must have been “foreseeable.” For the reason, most people would expect that a driver who runs a stop sign might hit someone. So the chances are, that a court would find that the driver was legally negligent. In real life, most negligence questions are more complex than this example and can be complicated even more by the fact that sometimes more than one person was negligent.

Remember, if you have a question about the law or a negligence case, Joey Messina at Messina Law Firm is here for you. It’s always free to contact our legal staff.


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