What is Negligence and When Does A Claim For Negligence Arise?


What Is Negligence?

Negligence occurs when a person fails to use reasonable care to protect others from harm. When that negligence results in an injury to another person, then a claim for negligence arises against the person who caused the harm.

In order to prove a claim for negligence, the Courts require that a person be able to prove the following elements;

  • Duty: “Did the defendant owe a duty to the plaintiff?”
    • Duty can arise many different ways. For example, people who are driving owe a duty to everyone else to drive safely.
  • Breach of Duty: Once you establish that a duty existed, you then need to prove that the defendant breached the duty.
    • In other words, you must show that the defendant failed to act as a reasonable person would in fulfilling the duty owed to the plaintiff.
  • Cause in Fact: You must then show that negligent conduct was the cause of the harm.
    • This is traditionally proven by showing that “but for” the defendant’s actions, the plaintiff would not have been injured.
    • For example, “but for” the other driver running the stop sign, the pedestrian would not have been injured.
  • Damages: You must then prove damages in order to win in Court. The damages often come in the form of the doctor bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering caused by the injury.

For example, let’s say that a truck driver falls asleep at the wheel and injures another driver as a result. All four of the elements for a negligence claim are in place:

  • The truck driver owed a duty to other drivers to drive safely;
  • The truck driver breached that duty by falling asleep at the wheel, and thereby failing to drive safely;
  • The other driver was injured;
  • The injury to the other driver was a result of the negligence of the truck driver.

As you can see in this example, all four elements are in place to be able to successfully bring the claim. That is why at the beginning of a case we are so careful in combing through all of the facts. The best way to avoid going to trial is to assume that the case is going to go to trial from the very beginning, and to prepare accordingly.

Therefore, right from the start we pour through all the facts to make sure we have every element in place to be able to successfully bring the case to settlement.

If a person’s negligence hurts somebody, they must be held accountable.

  •  We are experienced and forceful in holding those who are negligent responsible for their actions.

If you have any questions about personal injury cases, please feel free to call us at 301-951-1800.

  • AVVO
  • American Association for Justice
  • BBB Accredited Business
  • Trial Lawyers Association
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Peer Review Rated
  • Maryland Association for Justice
  • The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers
  • The Million Dollar Advocates Forum, The Top Trial Lawyers in America
  • Rue Ratings’ Best Attorneys of America
  • Rue Ratings’ Best Attorneys of America

4610 Elm St.

Bethesda, Maryland 20815

Phone:  301.951.1800

Fax:       301.656.6957



Talk to an Experienced Attorney