Negligence Definition


Failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another. Negligence forms a common basis for civil litigation, with plaintiffs suing for damages based on a variety of injuries and losses. The plaintiff (injured party) typically must prove that:

  • the allegedly negligent defendant owed a duty of care to the injured party or to the general public
  • the defendant's action (or failure to act) was not what a reasonably prudent person would have done
  • the plaintiff suffered an injury, and
  • the plaintiff's injury was caused by the defendant's negligence.

See also: contributory negligence, comparative negligence, foreseeable risk, negligence per se, gross negligence, tort, and liability.