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What is negligence in personal injury law?

"To err is human, to forgive is divine." While these philosophical words may be a good rule of thumb with regard to Californians' personal relationships and small slights, there are some practical ramifications that flow from some people's errors. When a person or entity has made a mistake that has caused injury or damage to another individual, it is perfectly acceptable for the injured party to expect some compensation to make him or her whole again; that is, to put that person as close to the place he or she was before the injury as possible.

Legally speaking, when someone is injured by another, we often look to see what the intent was in the situation. While sometimes the injury is intentional, as in a case of battery, for example, most often, injuries are sustained 'by accident;' meaning without either party intending them to happen. However, just because people didn't intend to cause harm does not mean they cannot be liable for it if it was caused by them.

The most common cause of action when a California resident is hurt by another lies in the legal concept of negligence. This can apply in many injury situations, whether it be an auto accident, a slip-and-fall, or some other situation in which injury is suffered by one person through the fault of another. To recover under a negligence theory, a plaintiff will have to prove several elements. First, the responsible party has to have a legal duty to the victim, and will have to be shown to have breached that duty. Then, the breach of this duty has to have caused the injury in question. Finally, there has to be proof of some kind of damage or injury that occurred due to the breach of duty.

While these elements may, at first glance, seem fairly simple, there is often a lot of nuance that enters into the picture when actually making a negligence claim. Because of this we may be revisiting each element in more detail in future posts. Those who have been injured by another's negligence may wish to consider speaking with an experienced California personal injury attorney for more information.

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