What is Negligence? and All about Negligence

an illustration of several question marks laying on a surface

Generally, everyone has a duty to act reasonably to avoid injuring others. Where a person acts or fails to act as a reasonable person in the same circumstances, and the act or failure to act results in someone’s foreseeable injury, he has likely been Negligence.

California’s Civil Code section 1714 provides that people have a duty to use ordinary care and that everyone is responsible for their willful acts as well as for those injuries which are caused by a lack of exercising ordinary care. This failure to act with ordinary care is negligence.

Negligence can be defined as a person breaching some duty owed to another and causing some harm as a result of that breach. To determine whether the defendant owed a duty to someone depends on foreseeability. Where a person can be put in danger because of someone’s actions, a duty will be found. 

When a defendant breaches his duty of care owed to another, he fails to respect his duty to use ordinary care in his conduct. Additionally, Negligence per se involves a breach may be found where someone violates a statute that is meant to protect others from a certain kind of harm. 

Causation is proven where it is shown that the defendant’s breach caused the plaintiff’s injury. In California, many courts will use the “substantial factor” test. This test asks whether a reasonable person would determine that the defendant’s conduct was more than a slight or inconsiderable cause in bringing about harm to the plaintiff. 

Actual harm, otherwise known as damages, must be shown by the plaintiff for the court to award any recovery, Damages can be economical, such as an award for medical costs and expenses, or they can be non-economical, such as those for mental anguish.

What Must a Victim of Negligence Prove to Bring a Successful Claim?

California provides that for a plaintiff to recover damages in a negligence action, he must prove the following elements by a preponderance of the evidence: 

  1. The defendant was negligent in that he owed the plaintiff a duty, and he breached that duty,
  2. The plaintiff was harmed by the defendant’s breach, and 
  3. The defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s harm. 

What Are the Possible Defenses to a Negligence Claim? 

Affirmative defenses are those in which the facts provided and proven by the defendant mitigate the consequences or negate civil liability. In other words, the facts of the tort alleged by the plaintiff are true, but there are reasons why the defendant should not be liable for the plaintiff’s harm. 

  • Superseding causes: These cut off the defendant’s liability where some other act or omission by a third party was the cause of the accident that resulted in the plaintiff’s harm. 
  • Comparative negligence: This defense, if proven, will mitigate the damages owed to the plaintiff because the plaintiff was responsible for at least art of his own injuries in some way.
  • Voluntary assumption of the risk: Here, the defendant will not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries where the plaintiff voluntarily and knowingly assumed a risk that is inherent to a dangerous activity in which the plaintiff was partaking at the time of his injury.

What if I Believe I Have Been a Victim of Negligence?
If you believe you have been the victim of negligence, call the Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at Jahrmarkt & Associates. Our lawyers will fight for the compensation you deserve for injuries suffered through no fault of your own. Call (310) 226-7676 or visit our website to schedule a free consultation today.