Negligence is another type of tort that has two meanings. It is the name of a cause of action in a tort, and it is a form of conduct that does not meet the reasonable standard of care (Kionka, 2013). The cause of action is the reason for the damage, and the standard of care is based on the care that a reasonable person would need in a given situation. Negligence is decided by determining the duty of the defendant, whether or not the defendant committed a breach of that duty, the cause of the injury, and the injury itself.
For an action to be deemed negligent, there must be a legal duty of care, or responsibility to act, based on the reasonable standard in a situation (Baime, 2018). An individual can be considered negligent if he agreed to watch a child, but did not do so, and then harm came to the child. An individual would not be considered negligent if he did not know that he was supposed to watch the child, or did not agree to watch the child.
A reasonable person is defined as someone who must exercise reasonable care based on what he or she knows about the situation, how much experience he or she has with the situation, and how he or she perceives the situation (Kionka, 2013). In some cases, this knowledge could be based on common knowledge of community matters, such as knowing that a bridge is closed for repairs.
In some cases, the duty of care is based on a special relationship, which is a relationship based on an implied duty of care. This implied duty of care often comes about as a duty to aid, or a duty to protect another, e.g., a nurse caring for patients in a hospital, or a lifeguard being responsible for swimmers in the guarded area (Baime, 2018). A passerby does not have a duty to aid, but if the individual tries to help, then he or she is responsible for acting responsibly. The elements of a negligence cause of action are (Kionka, 2013):
- a duty by the defendant to either act or refrain from acting;
- a breach of that duty, based on a failure to conform to the standard of care by the defendant;
- a causal connection between the defendant’s action or inaction, and the injury to the plaintiff;
- measurable harm that can be remedied in monetary damages.
Negligence case decisions are influenced by whether or not a defendant could have predicted that an action or inaction could have resulted in the tort, or foreseeability (Baime, 2018). Responsibility is often based on whether or not the harm caused by an action or inaction was reasonably foreseeable, which means that the result was fairly obvious before it occurred (Baime, 2018). A person assisting an inebriated individual into her car could be considered negligent due to the likelihood that harm would come to her while she is driving in an intoxicated state. This situation is an example of the foreseeable probability of harm.
- Business Law I Essentials. OpenStax. https://openstax.org/books/business-law-i-essentials/pages/1-introduction