Understanding The Legal Concept Of Negligence

24 January 2020
 Categories: Law, Blog

When a negligence attorney sits down with a case, they have to establish a handful of legal claims before they can move forward. It's important to understand these four concepts because they'll dictate how likely your case is to result in compensation.

A Specific Action or Inaction

For something to be negligent, an identifiable organization or individual has to either commit a specific act or fail to do something that's reasonably expected of them under the circumstances. In a slip-and-fall case, for example, failing to clean up water on the floor of a grocery store might be negligent because people generally expect that to be handled. Similarly, negligence can arise from a specific action, such as doing cleaning in the area without putting out caution signs.


An element of reasonableness usually comes into play, too. For example, failing to maintain a sidewalk during a snowstorm might be reasonable if the weather changed just a few minutes before an accident occurred. Conversely, most jurors would consider it unreasonable to let the sidewalk go for several days.

Duty of Care

Society must require the allegedly at-fault party to actually deal with a situation before it can be considered negligent. Not all people are responsible for rescuing all of their fellow human beings from harm.

A classic example of something that isn't negligence would be failing to render aid to a drowning stranger, presuming you did nothing to create their predicament. You don't know the person, and you did nothing to put them in that situation. Consequently, there was never a moment when you affirmatively took on a duty of care.

Invitation is a normal way that a duty of care is assumed. If a community center opens its doors to the public, for example, they take on a duty to provide a safe environment.

Another way a duty of care might be assumed is if you'd reasonably expect someone to end up in a particular situation. For example, you might not overtly invite someone into your yard. A child, however, might come into the yard chasing a ball. You should expect such a scenario and ensure that obvious hazards are removed from the yard. Therefore, it's negligence if you let someone get hurt under those circumstances.


Generally, the law's view of negligence is "no harm, no foul." Injuries must be documentable, and they must rise to a level that would require significant medical attention from a qualified professional.

To learn more, contact a negligence attorney in your area like Franklin L. Jones, Jr.