Negligence: Background

A person must conduct himself in a manner that is in conformity with certain accepted norms. If a person violates these norms and someone is injured as a result of the violation, the person who violates the norms will be required by law to compensate the injured person. Some of these norms require a person to act in a specific manner. The person will be liable for any injuries another person may suffer on account of the former failing to act as required by the norms.

Negligence requires that four elements be present:

  1. There was a duty of reasonable care;
  2. There was breach of the duty;
  3. Injury; and
  4. A connection between the breach of the duty and the injury.

The distinguishing feature of negligence is that the duty imposed is usually one to exercise reasonable care. One who fails to exercise reasonable care is commonly said to be “at fault.” Thus, liability based on negligence is often referred to as liability based on fault.

Sometimes a person may have specific duties imposed on him or her by statute or some other law. For example, professionals are expected to adhere to a certain standard of care. If they fail to adhere to these standards and someone is injured as a result, they will be held negligent and can be sued for professional malpractice.

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