There are many different legal terms that apply to personal injury law. One example is “negligence.” The issue of whether or not an individual was negligent is often at the heart of a case. As a result, understanding the legal definition of negligence can be helpful. This will give a better idea of the factors that may influence your legal situation after an injury.

The Basic Definition of Negligence

The simplest definition of negligence is that it is a failure to act in a careful, reasonable manner and this failure caused some form of damage. This can be physical harm, such as an injury, or damage to property. A negligent individual does not intend to cause harm, but a reasonable person would anticipate that harm could result from the negligent act.

The Elements of Negligence

There are four different elements that a lawyer must prove in order to make a successful negligence claim.

These are: 

Duty of Care

In order for a person to be considered negligent, they must have owed the injured party a certain duty of care. There are a lot of different ways this can apply.

Some examples include:

  • Those on the road have a responsibility to one another and to pedestrians to use reasonable care while driving.
  • A medical professional has a duty to provide an adequate standard of care to their patients.
  • A manufacturer has a duty to their consumers to provide safe products.
  • The owner of a store is responsible for making sure the environment is safe for customers.

These are only a few of the ways a duty of care might exist.

Breach of Duty of Care

Once it is proven that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, the next step is to determine if there was a breach of this duty. This means that the defendant either did not take actions that they should have or took actions that caused harm.

Based on the above situations, some example of a breach of duty of care include:  

  • A driver was not paying attention to the road and ran a red light.
  • A surgeon did not properly sanitize their equipment before a procedure.
  • Due to a lack of adequate testing, a company put a dangerous product on the market.
  • The owner of a store did not put up a warning sign after a spill.

Proximate Cause

In order for a negligence case to be valid, the defendant’s action must have been the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury. In other words, if the defendant had not acted as they did, the injury would not have occurred.

Proximate cause in the previous examples might be:  

  • As they ran the red light, the driver hit another car.
  • The surgeon’s patient developed a post-surgical infection.
  • An individual used the dangerous product and suffered an injury.
  • A customer walked over the spill and slipped.


The final step in a negligence case is proving that some form of damage resulted from the negligent action. The court will determine what the damage included and will base any compensation on this.

The damage in these situations might be: 

  • The driver of the car that was hit suffered bone fractures and had to take time off work to recover.
  • As a result of the infection, the patient had a longer and more expensive hospital stay.
  • The dangerous product caused burns which required medical attention.
  • During the fall, the customer hit their head and sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Injured Due to Someone Else’s Negligence?

If someone else’s negligent actions injured you or a loved one, Grabb & Durando can help. Our lawyers will examine the facts of your case and will work hard to get you the compensation you deserve. We will also explain the situation to you so you will be completely informed about what to expect.

If you believe the situation that caused your injury fits the definition of negligence, call us today for a free consultation.

Hire an Experienced Attorney

Having a lawyer on your side during the post-arrest process, especially for the initial appearance and arraignment, is crucial. At Grabb & Durando, we are available 24/7 to assist you if you are being arrested.
Contact our law firm today for a free initial consultation after an arrest.