What is negligence? This is a question that I often get asked by my clients. Most people have a basic understanding of negligence. It is when someone does or doesn’t do something without caring about what could happen. This definition is basically correct. Negligence is the basic legal concept that almost all personal injury lawsuits are based on.
According to Black’s Law Dictionary, negligence is “the omission to do something which a reasonable man, guided by those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs, would do, or doing something which a prudent and reasonable man would not do. It must be determined in all cases by reference to the situation and knowledge of the parties and all the attendant circumstances.” In layman terms, negligence is when someone does or doesn’t do something they should or shouldn’t have done. It all depends on the circumstances.
Negligence is broken down into four elements. These elements include:
- Duty: Some sort of relationship exists where one party has to do or refrain from doing something to the other party. For example, a supermarket owes a duty to their customers to inspect the store and make sure it is safe. If there is spilled milk in an aisle, the supermarket must warn customers and clean it up.
- Breach: This is exactly what is sounds like. The breach occurs when the duty is not followed. Back to our supermarket example, if the milk was not cleaned up or if the customers were not warned, the supermarket has breached its duty to the customers.
- Causation: Causation is actually broken down into two parts. The first is cause-in-fact. But for the breach, you would not have been injured. The breach of the duty was the reason you were injured. The second part is proximate causation. This means it was foreseeable that breaching the duty could result in an injury to someone. Back to our example, it is foreseeable that if you don’t put up warning signs and clean up the milk, someone could slip and fall.
- Damages: The last element is damages, this means that some sort of damage occurred to you. Damages can take the form of injuries to your body, medical bills, lost wages etc. Back to our example, if you slipped in the milk and broke your arm, you would have damages.
All of the elements must be present in order to have a claim for negligence. If just one is missing, the claim will fail. If you have a potential negligence claim, I would suggest that you hire a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Often times if you wait too long, valuable evidence will be lost that could go to prove one or all of the elements. If you have any questions or feel as though you may have a potential negligence claim, please feel free to call our personal injury Miami law firm at 786-815-6296 or you can visit out website at 305personalinjurylawer.com.