What Does Negligence Mean?

In personal injury cases, one of the most important and most difficult aspects to prove is negligence. This is true whether we are talking about medical malpractice, slip-and-fall accidents, dog bites, vehicle collisions or other types of personal injury cases. In many instances, you don’t just need to prove fault; you also need to show that the other party was negligent in some way. But what does “negligence” mean in the eyes of the law? The Wex Legal Dictionary defines “negligence” as follows:
“A failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions when there is some duty to act (e.g., a duty to help victims of one’s previous conduct).”
In simpler terms, negligence occurs when someone does not take the reasonable care they would normally be expected to take, especially if it results in harm to someone else. As you can see, this is a broad definition that could be applied in many different ways, so let’s look at a few examples to clarify what negligence means.

Examples of negligence

Below are some possible instances in which negligence might become a factor in a personal injury lawsuit:
  • If a neighbor owns an aggressive dog that he allows to run free without a leash despite being warned, and the dog bites you.
  • If you slip and fall on a wet floor in a retail store where water is not expected to exist due to a leak, and it’s apparent the owner made no attempt to clean it or to warn customers of the water’s presence.
  • If a nursing home patient suffers bed sores because nursing staff won’t move them or change the sheets, or shows signs of dehydration or malnutrition.

Why negligence can be difficult to prove

In cases where it’s obvious that someone did something they shouldn’t – or didn’t do something they should – negligence may be easier to demonstrate since it is based on reasonable expectation rather than intent. In other words, it doesn’t matter whether they meant to be negligent because common sense dictates they should have known what to do. In less obvious cases, negligence can be difficult to prove because it does involve intent. You have to provide reasonable evidence that the person simply didn’t care enough to do what was right. An experienced personal injury attorney is always your best bet in filing injury-related lawsuits because an attorney understands the nuances of the law when it comes to proving negligence. For more information, call Sutton Slover today at 404.768.0292.