If you were injured by someone else, it may be a good idea to respond with a personal injury lawsuit. You will need to prove that the other party acted negligently, and if you are able to do this, you will be fully compensated for your losses. However, this does raise the question of what is considered negligent. This guide will go over the legal definition of negligence.

What Is Negligence

Before diving into the formal definition, it may be easier to dissect negligence in more informal terms. There are two aspects that are required for an action to be considered negligent:

  • Unreasonable action
  • Cause of harm

The first of these two aspects essentially just means that an average person would consider the action to be unreasonable. As citizens, everyone is obligated to follow a certain set of social rules. If you do not follow these rules, that may mean you are acting negligently.

The second aspect is much simpler to understand. The action must have cause harm in some way. It is very easy to understand whether or not an action led to harm to someone’s body or property. Now that you understand the basics, you should review the more in-depth legal definition, which expands upon these concepts and deals away with any vagueness.

Legal Definition

A negligent action is composed of four components. These components are:

  • Duty – Citizens have a duty to act or not act in a certain way.
  • Breach – Negligent actions must breach the duty that citizen has.
  • Causation – The breach of duty must be the direct cause of injury.
  • Damage – An action is only negligent if it results in some form of damage.

An action is not considered negligent unless all four of these components are present. If you look closely at them, you will see that they build upon each other, working together to form a negligent action.

First, it must be shown that the person you wish to file a lawsuit against had a particular duty. This may be the duty to not drive drunk or to create a safe public space. Second, it must be shown that this duty was breached in some way. Third, a breach of duty is not negligent unless it is the cause of some form of harm. And finally, that harm must be quantifiable and provable. Proving negligence is a difficult thing to do, which is why it is so important to hire an attorney, who is skilled in personal injury cases.