What Is Negligence?

In the state of California, negligence is a legal term that is used to establish the fact that a person had the duty to act in a certain manner and failed to do so.

Negligence may best be explained by its key elements: duty of care and a breach of that duty.

“Duty of care” is a term that refers to a person’s responsibility to avoid causing harm to someone else. In order to have a successful personal injury claim, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a duty of care. For example, in a medical malpractice case, it is generally accepted that a doctor has a duty of care to their patient. In a car accident case, a driver has a duty of care to operate their vehicle responsibly.

The second element is a breach of that duty. In other words, the responsible party did not perform or act within their duty of care. In a case involving a car accident, the driver may have been operating their vehicle recklessly. They may have been driving too fast for road conditions or for the time of day. The result of the breach of duty of care, or negligence, is harm or injury to another person.

When someone is injured due to someone’s negligence, the injured person has the right to file a lawsuit and seek compensation for their injuries. Compensation may be awarded for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. When negligence is proven, the guilty party is held liable to the victim.