What Is Negligence?

ELI5: Negligence

A lot of personal injury claims hinge on whether or not the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff to become injured. Legally speaking, negligence occurs when the defendant’s failure to take reasonable precautions results in a plaintiff’s injuries. Though it sounds straightforward, there seems to be widespread confusion regarding the legal definition of negligence. Further complicating matters, there are different levels of negligence: a defendant who acted in a particularly reckless manner may be found to have been grossly negligent. If you’re considering filing a personal injury claim, but you are unsure if your injuries are a result of negligence, keep reading—we’ve got your answers.

NEGLIGENCE IS NOT ALWAYS INTENTIONAL

One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding negligence tends to be that there’s a very direct relationship between intentionality and negligence. Many people believe that if a plaintiff’s injuries were the result of the defendant’s mistake, then the defendant was not negligent because it was a mistake. The aforementioned is untrue: whether or not a defendant intended to harm the plaintiff is irrelevant. In fact, very few personal injury defendants intend to cause harm to the plaintiff, but their actions or inactions caused harm anyway. When personal injury cases go to trial, juries aren’t asked to decide whether or not the defendant intended to cause the plaintiff’s injuries. Instead, juries are tasked with deciding whether or not the defendant was negligent, and whether or not the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s injury.

THERE’S A STANDARD FOR NEGLIGENCE

The standard for negligence often comes down to the question of whether or not the defendant was acting in a reasonable way. According to Cornell’s Legal Information Institute, a defendant is negligent when they fail to take the same precautions that a person of ordinary prudence would take. However, in some circumstances, the standard for negligence is different. For example, in cases of medical malpractice, doctors are not held to the same standard as other people. Instead, when determining whether or not a doctor was negligent, a doctor’s actions will likely be compared to the actions of other doctors. If other doctors would have conducted themselves in a similar manner, the doctor is less likely to be considered negligent.

WAS THE OUTCOME FORESEEABLE?

Foreseeability is another element of negligence. Foreseeability is concerned with whether or not the defendant knew or reasonably should have known, of a hazard. For example, if you own a swimming pool, and a child drowns in the pool, you would be more likely to be found liable in a wrongful death claim if a personal injury attorney can prove that you knew, or reasonably should have known that the swimming pool was a hazard. This could happen if you know that children trespass onto your property to go swimming in your pool and you failed to take reasonable precautions to protect potential trespassing children from drowning. The more a defendant was able to foresee, the more likely it is that they will be found liable if they didn’t take precautions.

CAN ACTS OF GOD BE FORESEEABLE?

An “act of God” usually refers to a natural disaster such as, storms, fires, hurricanes, etc. For the most part, people aren’t responsible for things such as premises liability when acts of God are involved. If your house is torn down in a tornado, your guests who were injured in the tornado at your residence would not likely be able to win a premises liability claim against you. This is because you could not have foreseen the tornado, the tornado’s destruction, and you could not have prevented the tornado from happening on your property. However, if you know that you have certain hazardous weather conditions in your area, you could be liable for a person’s injuries if you do not take precautions to keep your property safe during those weather conditions. If you live somewhere with hurricanes, and you have a tree that you know needs to be cut down, you may be liable when the tree falls on top of a person during a windstorm.

HAVE YOU BEEN INJURED BY NEGLIGENCE?

When determining whether or not a defendant’s negligence caused your injury, you may need the help of a personal injury attorney. In that case, Moxie Law Group is here for you. Our experienced team is ready to help you fight for the compensation you need in order to get back on your feet. If you’re ready to file your claim, contact Moxie Law Group today for your free consultation.

Person grabbing the steering wheel and driving on a busy road

Car Crash but the Other Driver Drove Away! What Now? 

by | Apr 25, 2024 | Educational | 0 Comments

Car Crash but the Other Driver Drove Away! What Now?  If this has happened to you, don't panic! Keep reading. First Things First  Make sure that you and all your...

People holding presumably alcoholic beverages up for a toast

Can You Sleep in Your Car if You’re Drunk?  

by | Apr 18, 2024 | Educational | 0 Comments

Can You Sleep in Your Car if You’re Drunk?   You’ve had a big night partying like it’s 1999 and Y2K is tomorrow—so should you sleep it off in your car? Ideally, no. If...

Fast red sports car

Do You Need to Buy Additional Insurance When Renting a Car? 

by | Apr 16, 2024 | Educational | 0 Comments

Do You Need to Buy Additional Insurance When Renting a Car?   If you’re renting a car, you’ll probably be offered some “extra insurance”—but do you really need it?...

Bright orange sports car

What Is Rental Coverage, and Should You Consider It? 

by | Apr 11, 2024 | Educational | 0 Comments

What Is Rental Coverage, and Should You Consider It?  What Is Rental Coverage?  Usually, when people talk about “rental car coverage” they’re talking about one of two...

An elderly man and elderly woman walking down the street together

Do Financially Abused Elderly Have Recourse?

by | Apr 4, 2024 | Educational | 0 Comments

With the invention of the internet, scams preying upon the elderly have gotten more and more difficult to spot, even as the aging population becomes more familiar with...

Two insurance adjusters reviewing a case

“The Insurance Company Said It Was My Fault, but It Wasn’t!”

by | Mar 19, 2024 | Educational | 0 Comments

" The Insurance Company Said It Was My Fault, but It Wasn’t! " What should you do now? Keep reading! Who Determines Fault in an Accident?  The insurance companies...

Insurance adjuster and potential client reviewing a document

How Much Insurance Do I Really Need?

by | Mar 14, 2024 | Educational | 0 Comments

How much insurance do I really need? Is the cheapest plan really the best plan? Do you even need insurance in the first place?  How Does Insurance Work?  Customers pay...

Emergency care provider putting a stretcher into an ambulance

Getting Treatment without Health Insurance 

by | Mar 12, 2024 | Educational | 0 Comments

Is getting treatment without health insurance even possible? Spoiler alert: DON’T avoid treatment just because you don’t have insurance!  Problems with Avoiding...

Close up of a quarter and a penny.

Five Ways Insurance Companies Avoid Paying Fair Compensation

by | Jan 23, 2024 | Educational | 0 Comments

Before we go any further, it’s important to understand how insurance works. When you pay your insurance premium, you’re paying for financial coverage (up to the policy...