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What is Negligence?

What is Negligence?

Negligence is a legal concept, a term usually employed to describe an instance when someone is seeking compensation for accidents and injuries that were caused as a result of someone else’s fault. Negligence is a type of act, or a civil wrong, and is often referred to using another legal term: a tort. In essence, negligence means conduct that is culpable because it the legal standard required of a reasonable person in protecting individuals against risk that was foreseeable and that lead to the causation of harm to others. When someone engages in negligent behavior and that behavior then is the legal cause of damages, a right to compensation is said to exist so as to make the injured person whole.

The Courts’ Decisions

In appellate court decisions throughout Florida, negligence suits have historically been analyzed in distinct stages. First, the defendant must have had a duty of care that is owed to the person bringing suit. The courts have long established that all persons have a duty to use that degree of care that an ordinarily prudent person would have used under the circumstances, so that, at trial, the existence of the “duty” is predetermined. For example, a driver on the public roadways has a duty to exercise sufficient care and to avoid following too closely, going too fast given the road conditions, and generally keeping a proper lookout.

Who Decides If There Was Negligence?

The determination of whether the behavior of a particular defendant in any given case constitutes negligence is ordinarily a unique question of fact that must be determined by a jury. Proving negligence does not, alone, support an award of damages.

What Must Be Proved?

The person bringing suit must also show that the defendant has breached that duty by not exercising reasonable care. The plaintiff must further show that the defendant’s negligence contributed to cause injury, harm, or damages to the plaintiff. The harm must not be too remote a consequence of the negligence, and the negligence must be a “proximate cause” of the harm. Finally, the claimant must be able to establish what kind of damages, or compensation, he should get for his or her harm. Negligence can arise in several instances, for example, in connection with the maintenance of premises, the driving of vehicles, the ownership of animals, the performing of a professional job, or the general commission of an act.