Negligence is the basis for most civil cases, although an individual or company can be criminally negligent as well. The civil law of negligence is based upon the concept that a reasonably prudent person should act in a certain way. Negligence is the result of an individual (or entity) failing to fulfill a duty owed and falling below the standard of care by not acting as a reasonably prudent person should.
The bottom line of negligence law is that individuals (and companies) must exercise reasonable care and consider foreseeable harm that they may cause to others.
Negligence is also often used to describe “accident and injury law” or “personal injury law.”, which may include not only negligence cases but strict liability and intentional injury cases.It encompasses injuries caused by accidents, dog bites, defective products, medical malpractice, other professional malpractice such as business errors, and nursing home abuse.
The Three Prongs of Proving Negligence
To prove negligence, the injured person must show that his or her injuries were caused by the act or failure to act of another individual (or company.)
Proving negligence has three prongs. In other words, the injured person must show that it is more likely than not (i.e. preponderance of the evidence) that:
- The defendant had a duty to the injured person,
- The defendant’s act or failure to act was not reasonable and caused the injured person’s injuries, and
- The injured person suffered some form of injury as to be entitled to damages.