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4 Components of Negligence


If you are in the process of putting a personal injury lawsuit together, you will likely leave the legal stuff to your attorney. However, it can be beneficial when having discussions with your attorney to understand some of the biggest legal concepts. Most people do not understand the definition of negligence from a legal perspective. It is complicated, but not difficult to understand. This guide will make the concept as simple as possible.

The Components of Negligence

There are four things that must be true for an action to be considered negligent. If even one of these things is not true, then that action is not negligent and the person who took the action cannot be held legally or financially responsible. These four components are designed to build upon one another progressively. Keep in mind that there are several ways to prove that someone is at fault for an injury, and proving negligence is only one option.

If your attorney decides to go for the negligence approach, then he or she will have to prove that all four of these components of the definition are true:

  1. Duty – The first component is the establishment of the defendant’s duty. Everyone has certain duties placed upon them to act a certain way. For example, it is the duty of every citizen to never drive while drunk. These are actions that a reasonable person expects.
  2. Breach – The second component is the establishment of a breach of the duty that has already been established. Even if you show that someone has a duty to act a certain way, it must be further proven that the defendant did not live up to his or her duty in some way.
  3. Causation – The third component is the establishment that the breach of duty directly caused the injury. Even if the defendant breached his or her duty, it was only a negligent action if the injury was directly related. If it would have happened with or without the breach of duty, then it was not negligent.
  4. Damage – The final component is the establishment of the damages that the victim suffered. If the defendant did not suffer at all, then the action was not negligent. The damage must also be significant enough to justify compensation in a personal injury lawsuit, rather than small claims court.

Remember, you should always hire a lawyer, if you think you have a personal injury case. The four components of negligence that must be legally proven should demonstrate just how hard it is to represent yourself.

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