Negligence law states that a person or an organization is generally liable when they negligently injure others.
If the injured party can prove that the responsible party failed to exercise care that a reasonable party would have, or that, in the circumstances, the law requires for the protection of other persons or those interests of other persons, the injured party may be entitled to compensation. If an injured party has suffered due to negligent behavior, she has the right to be compensated for physical or emotional injury, harm to her property and/or financial status.
Negligence is a legal concept usually used to achieve compensation for accidents and injuries. Negligence is a type of tort or delict (a legal obligation between two or more parties even if there is no contract between those parties) and a civil wrong, but can also be used in criminal law. It can be divided into the following levels:
Ordinary negligence means the responsible party has shown a lack of ordinary diligence;
Slight or less than ordinary negligence means the responsible party has shown a lack of great diligence;
Gross negligence means the responsible party has shown a lack of even slight diligence.
Most negligent acts are unintentional but others are categorized as willful, wanton or reckless. As well, deliberate judgments that are dangerously careless, such as a faulty building design, could be considered an act of negligence.
If a defective product is deemed unreasonably dangerous (e.g. faulty seat belt buckles), the manufacturer may be liable, even though the faulty design was unintentional. However, there is no law upon the manufacturer to produce a product that is 'accident-proof.' The man
ufacturer is required to make a product that is free from defective and unreasonably dangerous conditions.
There are four important elements to a negligence lawsuit that must be proven:
- The defendant owed a duty, either to the plaintiff or to the general public
- The defendant violated that duty
- The defendant's violation of the duty resulted in harm to the plaintiff
- The plaintiff's injury was foreseeable by a reasonable person.
As an example, a car manufacturer has a duty to produce a car that is free from unreasonably dangerous defects. By producing a car with defective brakes, the manufacturer has violated that duty. Furthermore, it is foreseeable that a car with brakes that do not work properly will be involved in a car accident and people could be injured in that accident.
It is important to note that although the negligence must be a factor in the harm that was caused to the plaintiff, it does not need to be the only factor. In the above example, if the person driving the car with defective brakes was speeding and crashed with another vehicle, the person in that other vehicle could, potentially, sue both the driver of the car and the vehicle's manufacturer for the accident.
In a negligence action, resulting damages must be proved before recovering compensation.