The basic definition of negligence is, “Conduct that falls below the acceptable standard of what a reasonable person would do to protect another from an unreasonable risk of harm.” A negligence case is analyzed through specific elements. A client must meet each element of negligence in order to succeed in a cause of action. These elements are duty breach, causation, and damages.
In order for someone to be negligent, they must owe the other person a duty. A person in the general public owes everyone a duty to act like a reasonable person. Some people have special duties towards others. For example, doctors owe patients a higher duty, lawyers owe clients a higher duty, etc.
You must have breached that duty by acting in a manner not in accordance with your duty. For example, a doctor cannot be drunk while performing surgery. If he was under the influence of alcohol, that would be not acting as a reasonable doctor would act. Therefore they would have breached the duty of their patient.
In order to have a case for negligence, you must prove that the person’s breach is what caused the damages you are asserting. There are two types of duty that must be met: actual and proximate. How these play into negligence cases can be complicated. It is best to speak to an experienced attorney who can explain actual and proximate cause and how it relates to your case.
Finally, in a case of negligence, you must prove that you sustained damages. Damages can be either be physical or emotional injuries, property damage, or both. However, there must be some sort of damage that was incurred as a result of the negligence for it to be actionable.