The term stems from the word, “neglect”. In legal terms, negligence is the failure to take action to avoid or correct a dangerous /potentially harmful situation. In other words, negligence is the failure to exercise the degree of care that the law requires for the protection of others.
Negligence law enforces this premise — that when a person or organization negligently injures others, they are liable. It is a legal term heard often in certain types of injury cases, where an injury attorney seeks to obtain compensation for injuries or illnesses caused by another party, whether directly or indirectly.
In this type of case, the personal injury attorney needs to prove that the responsible party failed to exercise care that a reasonable party would have exercised. Negligence law allows the injured party(ies) to seek compensation for their injuries. This can include both physical and emotional damage.
Negligence is considered to be a type of tort. A tort is a legal obligation between two or more parties. This is true even if there is no contract between the parties. This is considered a civil issue, but can also be used in criminal law. Negligent acts are categorized as wanton, willful or reckless but most are unintentional acts. Here is an example of both types of negligence.
Take for instance a company that has known for a while that there is an old leaking pipe underground on their property, and in the area where the leak is, the ground is damp and soft, and sunken. An employee brings his son with him to pick up his paycheck. The son, playing, runs across this area and it gives way beneath him. He tears a tendon in his ankle and hits his head on a rock. This company caused harm unintentionally – a softer form of negligence.
Now consider that a company is filling some oil tanks at the edge of their property. The workers doing the filling are told that the oil is very slick, and to make sure none leaks onto the sidewalk nearby. However, the workers are sloppy, and they do get oil on the sidewalk. A woman comes by, falls, and breaks her hip. That is a more reckless, straightforward form of negligence.
In order for a lawsuit to be successful, there are four elements that must be proven.
-The defendant had a duty. This could have been toward the general public or to the plaintiff.
-That duty was violated by the defendant.
-There was harm to the plaintiff due to the defendant’s violation of that duty.
-A reasonable person could have foreseen the potential injury or harm.