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Bronx Personal Injury & Real Estate Blog

Monday, November 23, 2020

What Is Negligence?

Have you heard the term “negligence?” While you may have heard it in more casual conversation, you may not be aware of its legal definition. You see, negligence in the legal context has its own specific meaning. It has its own specific set of elements. In most, but not all, personal injury actions, the plaintiff, the person bringing the claim, is pursuing compensation from the defendant under a theory of negligence. Let us explore more on what that actually means.

What is Negligence?

When a plaintiff suffers an injury and other losses due to the negligence of another, he or she is seeking compensation for the damages sustained from the defendant’s negligent action or inaction. In pursuing this compensation pursuant to a theory of negligence, the plaintiff must satisfy four critical elements. Without these elements being satisfied in full, the plaintiff will not be legally entitled to compensation from the defendant.

The first element the plaintiff will need to establish is a duty. The defendant must have owed the plaintiff a duty of care. This means the defendant owed the plaintiff a level of reasonable care in his or her actions. A duty can be situationally created. For instance, we all owe a duty to act with due care when operating our vehicles on public roads. Something like breaking traffic laws would likely be seen as a violation of that duty. Other times, a duty can be created by a relationship. For instance, doctors owe their patients a duty to provide reasonable care in the medical treatment and evaluation they provide to those patients.

The second element the plaintiff will need to substantiate is a breach. There must have been a demonstrable breach of the duty the defendant owed to the plaintiff. Did the defendant violate a traffic law? Did the doctor fail to provide a level of care that a similarly situated medical professional would have provided under similar circumstances? These are the types of questions that will need to not only be answered but supported by evidence.

The third element the plaintiff will need to prove is causation. A breach of duty, or act of negligence, is not, in and of itself, something that a person can seek compensation for. The negligence must have been the direct cause of harm to the plaintiff. Not only must the negligence be the cause of the harm to the plaintiff, but the harm must have been a foreseeable result of the negligence. Negligence that sets into motion a string of seemingly random and unforeseeable consequences resulting in harm to the plaintiff is not likely to be compensable in a personal injury action.

Last, but certainly not least, the plaintiff must have sustained damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence. Damages in a personal injury action include economic and non-economic damages designed to make the plaintiff “whole” again. The goal of compensation in a personal injury action is, most of the time, to attempt to set the plaintiff in a position he or she would have been in had it not been for the injury caused by the defendant’s negligence.

New York Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of the negligence of another, The Law Office of Ryan Goldstein is committed to serving you. We provide trusted legal counsel to injury victims as we fight for their legal right to monetary compensation. Contact us today.


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