A Brief Introduction to the Legal Concept of Negligence

If you or a loved one has been injured and is considering any type of legal action, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term ‘negligence’ talked about by attorneys, insurance companies, and others. While most people know what this word means in general usage, it is important to get a firm grasp of the legal concept behind this term as well. Determining whether or not another party was negligence will often mean the difference between having a strong legal case, and not having one at all.

Establishing Negligence

In order to show Texas courts that someone acted with negligence, you (or more accurately, your attorney) must be able to show that the five elements of negligence were present when the injury occurred:

  • Specific Duty – In order for there to be negligence, the defendant must have had a specific duty that was required of them. For example, a truck driver has a duty to be aware of and follow all laws on the roads that they are traveling.
  • Breach – Next, the defendant must be shown to have failed to meet the obligations of the duty in question. Showing that a truck driver exceeded their maximum daily driving hours, which caused them to be drowsy behind the wheel, can be an example of a breach of duty.
  • Cause – Showing that an injury was in fact caused by the breach in duty is another essential element. Using the example above, it must be shown that the fact that the truck driver was tired was the cause of an accident that resulted in the injury of the plaintiff.
  • Proximate Cause – The duty that the defendant had must be obvious to any reasonable person. All reasonable people will agree that truck drivers should be aware of the number of hours they are permitted to drive each day, and how many hours they had driven.
  • Damages – This is the actual harm that was caused by the defendant. In a truck accident case, for example, it could be the physical injuries of the plaintiff as well as any property damage that occurred. If there is no real damage, then compensation will not be granted (even if the driver in this example was still being neglectful).

Intent is Not the Same as Neglect

It is important to note that neglect does not mean that there was any intent to do wrong. A drowsy truck driver certainly does not intend to get into an accident and cause harm. Their intentions, however, do not change the fact that they were neglectful in their actions and should be held legally and financially responsible for the results.

Contact Us

If you have been injured and you believe that the responsible party acted negligently, please contact us. We will provide you with a free consultation to go over the details of your case and determine if there actually was negligence on the part of the other party. If so, we can represent you throughout the case to get you the compensation you are legally entitled to.