The Four Elements of Negligence

Personal Injury Lawyer

When you are planning to file a lawsuit against someone for causing you an injury, one of the first things you’ll need to do is prove the individual was negligent. To understand this step, you should first understand the definition of “negligence.” The following are the four elements that make it up.


Did the defendant owe you a duty of care? In some situations, the individual had no responsibility to care for you in any way, and that could disrupt your case. Examples of someone who owed you a duty of care include:

  • A surgeon who you trusted to perform your surgery.
  • Another driver on the road who you would expect to stay in his or her own lane.
  • A home owner who invited you onto their property.
  • Your manager who is in charge of hiring the maintenance crew.

As you can see, each of these individuals has a duty to perform a certain task or to act in a responsible way, given the situation.


Did the defendant breach that duty? After you’ve determined he or she owed you a duty of care, you’ll need to determine if he or she acted in a way that any other similar person would not have acted given the same circumstances. For example, the surgeon who you trusted to perform your surgery may have left a tool inside your body. It would be reasonable to assume any other surgeon would not have done that, which means your surgeon breached the duty of care.


Did the breach of duty actually cause your injuries? Negligence only goes so far in a court of law. If the defendant’s negligence didn’t cause you any injuries, you may not have a case. For example, if another driver swerved out of his lane and almost hit you, he would be acting negligent. If you got road rage in response and crashed into the back of his car, it wouldn’t be his fault that you were injured. On the other hand, if he hit you while swerving, then causation would exist.


Are there damages you can be compensated for? If your injuries didn’t result in much medical care, and you didn’t lose any wages over the accident, you may not have much in terms of damages. The defendant should also have funds from which to compensate you.

Obtaining Legal Help

When you need help proving negligence, you turn to a professional who can assist with that. Contact experienced Elizabeth, NJ personal injury lawyers, such as from Rispoli & Borneo, P.C., today to receive the legal help you need.