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Home Frequently Asked Questions Personal Injury FAQ's What is Negligence?

What is Negligence?

Like all legal terms, negligence has a very specific definition in the courts. When a personal injury attorney seeks to prove that the defendant caused injury by being negligent, he or she is trying to prove one or more of the following negligent qualities apply to the defendant’s actions:

  • To fail to use reasonable care
  • To do something that a reasonable person would not do.
  • To fail to do something that a reasonable person would do.

Negligence must cause injury in a natural and continuous sequence in order to be a factor in an injury accident. However, negligence can be combined with other circumstances that contribute to an injury or accident.

Consider the following example: A driver of a car crashes into another car, causing that vehicle to collide with a utility pole, which knocks out the power to a city block. Somewhere in that blacked-out city block, a person eats a tuna sandwich which has not been properly refrigerated (due to the lack of power), and contracts a serious food borne illness. While it is reasonable to hold the driver of the first car at fault for causing injuries to the driver of the second car, is it reasonable to hold the driver of the car at fault for the food borne illness? In most courts, negligence concerns a foreseeable and unreasonable risk. Most reasonable people understand that driving a car carries the foreseeable risk of causing an auto accident. Linking a food borne illness with driving is much harder for a reasonable person to foresee.

Negligence concerns inadvertent actions. However, some deliberate acts that fail to address foreseeable and unreasonable risk are treated as negligent acts in a court of law.

In a court setting, negligence can also refer to a professional’s sub-standard care rendered to a client. Such negligence is generally divided into two classes. Ordinary negligence results from honest errors in judgment, often resulting from inexperience. By contrast gross negligence concerns the willful disregard for established professional standards.

Negligence is a complex term, whose meaning is constantly undergoing revision in the courts. As decisions are rendered on negligence cases, those decisions shape how future court case involving negligence will be tried.

If you believe that you or someone you care for has been injured due to the negligence of another, please contact the Florida Law Offices of James O. Cunningham, P.A.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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