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Negligence Law

Negligence, in its basic context, is the failure to use reasonable care. Negligence may consist of action or inaction. A person is negligent if he fails to act as an ordinarily prudent person would act under the circumstances. What constitutes negligence will depend on the facts of each individual case. Generally, a trier of fact needs to determine what a “reasonable” person would do or not do in the given situation.

In some instances, negligence is defined by statute, referred to as negligence per se. In such cases, negligence is determined by failure to comply with the statutory requirements. Negligence per se may also be declared when a person does or omits to do something which is so beyond reasonable behavior standards that it is negligent on its face.

Some acts are considered inherently negligent, with no requirement to prove the negligence was known or intended. For instance, when a doctor leaves a sponge inside a patient, it is inherently negligent. In appropriate cases, affirmative defenses, such as contributory negligence, etc., may also be raised by a defendant.