Updated November 30, 2018 | Legal Dictionary

Negligence: A Legal Definition

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Negligence is one of many terms that people use broadly in everyday conversation, but it carries a specific meaning when used in reference to the law. It is defined as a failure to behave with the level of care that an ordinary or reasonable person would exercise in a similar circumstance.

Proving negligence is key to winning a personal injury lawsuit. It is often accidental, although extreme or gross negligence is, in many cases, criminal in nature.

Negligence and Liability

The primary factors determining whether a negligent party is liable for the damages caused by their negligence include:

  • Whether the action or inaction lacks reasonable care
  • The foreseeable severity of any harm that may result
  • The burden of precautions to reduce or warn of the risk of harm

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