What is negligence?
One can file a lawsuit for negligence only if one establishes all the four required elements of duty, breach, causation and damage. If anyone is missing, there is no negligence from a legal standpoint, and a lawsuit cannot be sustained. While there are often technicalities involved, it is always prudent to contact a qualified and licensed attorney who can answer your questions and guide you through the process of analyzing your claim or defense against negligence.
If you have been wounded by someone else who acted “negligently”, you may wonder what negligence means in the legal sense. According to the dictionary, “negligence” is the ‘failure to exercise that degree of care that the law requires for the protection of other persons who may be distressingly affected by the lack of such care.’
But how do you know if there was negligence in your case? What are the elements of negligence? The elements of negligence in general are:
Duty is a legal responsibility owed by an individual or a company requiring that they adhere to a standard of reasonable care while performing acts that could foreseeably harm others. There are many duties in the world, and they need to be discharged in adherence to common law principles or written or unwritten statutes and codes.
A breach is simply a violation of a duty i.e. when one does not do what one is supposed to do, or bypasses one’s duty of care. So, when someone rams into the back of another car, set off fireworks in a crowd, or accidentally sets their neighbor’s house on fire, they are said to have breached their duty of care.
It is not enough that one does something that could harm someone else; the action has to actually cause harm. Causation is the link between breach and injury.
Just as one needs causality, one also needs to establish an actual damage resulting from the breach of duty. Just being disappointed with someone who could have caused harm is usually not enough. One must suffer an actual injury of some sort.