In legal terms, negligence refers to a person or entity that causes harm to another party through failure to use reasonable care. There are two different types of negligence that fall under negligence law:
- A person/entity fails to take reasonable action to prevent harm — for example, a store failing to clear ice from its entrance and sidewalk in winter
- A person/entity harms someone through an action a reasonable person would not take — for example, a doctor performing sloppy surgery that harms the patient
Negligence can lead to a lawsuit against the person or entity that was responsible for harming another person.
How negligence law works
The legal concept of negligence is typically used for parties injured in accidents to seek compensation. Under negligence law, a person or entity that negligently injures others is generally liable or responsible for compensating the injured person.
During a negligence lawsuit, the injured person must prove that the person or entity they’re suing failed to use reasonable care or take reasonable actions. People who are injured due to negligent behavior have the right to seek compensation for physical and/or emotional injuries, harm to property or harm to financial status.
Negligence is usually a civil wrong, but it may also be charged as a criminal offense. There are a few different levels of negligence:
- Ordinary negligence: This is when a person or entity harms someone through a lack of ordinary diligence.
- Slight/less than ordinary negligence: This refers to a situation in which person or entity causes harm through a lack of great diligence.
- Gross negligence: The most severe – this is when a person or entity demonstrates a complete lack of diligence, even slightly.
There are also further categories that can be assigned to negligence. In most cases, the negligence is unintentional, but sometimes it is classified as willful, wanton, reckless or dangerously careless. For example, a faulty building design that causes collapse.
Defective products can also be classified as negligent, if they are deemed “unreasonably dangerous.”
Proving negligence in a lawsuit
In order to sue a person or entity for negligence, the injured person must prove:
- The defendant (person or entity accused of negligence) had a duty to the plaintiff (person injured as a result of negligence), or to the general public
- The defendant’s negligence violated the duty
- The violation resulted in injury or harm to the plaintiff
- A reasonable person would have foreseen the injury resulting from negligence
In addition, the plaintiff must provide proof that the compensation sought in the lawsuit is reasonable for the losses incurred.
The Miami trial lawyers at Baron, Herskowitz, and Cohen have successfully represented many clients in all types of negligence claims and have helped clients receive the compensation they deserve. For more information about negligence law in Florida or to discuss a possible lawsuit, contact us today.