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Legal Question: What is Negligence?


When faced with a situation where you believe that you or a loved one has been a victim of negligence, you might be left with a lot of questions. Maybe it’s unclear if your outcome was caused by chance or negligence. You might wonder what exactly the term “negligence” means and what specific behaviors might constitute grounds for a lawsuit. If you feel that negligence could have resulted in a negative, life-altering result for you or a loved one, we have answers to some of the questions you might have about filing a lawsuit.

What is Negligence?

Negligence refers to a person’s failure to follow a duty of conduct imposed by law. Every person is under an obligation to use ordinary care to protect himself and others from injury. “Ordinary care” means a degree of care which a reasonable and prudent person would use under the same or similar circumstances to protect himself and others from injury. A person’s failure to use ordinary care is considered negligence. For more on

What Constitutes Negligence?

Four elements must be present in a negligence case. First, the defendant must have owed a legal duty to the plaintiff. For example, an operator of a motor vehicle has the duty to use reasonable care in the operation of the motor vehicle and to obey all laws dealing with the operation of a motor vehicle. Secondly, there must be a breach of this legal duty.  Thirdly, this breach of legal duty must cause the plaintiff to suffer an injury or suffer damage. Finally, there must be proof that the defendant’s breach of legal duty was a direct cause of the plaintiff’s injury or damage.

What is Considered an Injury?

The injury component is a major part of proving negligence, so what exactly is considered an injury or damage? Bodily harm is a common outcome of negligence, but it is not the only thing that may be considered in a case. Even if you are not physically harmed, emotional harm might be taken into consideration if it was intentionally caused. In addition to bodily harm, property damage and economic damages such as loss of income will also constitute damages compensable by law.

If you believe that you or a loved one have been a victim of negligence, contact the law offices of Kelly & West to find out more.

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