What Is Negligence In A Personal Injury Case?

Negligence happens when someone acts in a careless or reckless manner that causes injury to another person. In personal injury cases, negligence can either be caused by action or failing to take appropriate action.

In general, negligence, from the word neglect, is at the heart of many personal injury claims. It forms the legal basis necessary to mount a personal injury lawsuit.

To win a personal injury lawsuit, the injured person, known as the plaintiff, must prove these four things:

  1. The person who is being sued, or the defendant, owed the plaintiff a duty of care.
  2. The defendant failed to act with appropriate care toward the injured person.
  3. The breach of duty on the part of the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injury.
  4. The plaintiff suffered damages due to the defendant’s breach of duty. Damages means bodily injury, property damages, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Duty of Care Examples

In the case of a car or other motor vehicle, a person’s duty of care includes following traffic laws, including stopping at red lights and following the speed limits, and not drinking while driving.

Breach of Duty Examples

A beach of duty of care can occur if the owner of a car does not properly maintain a vehicle and that car gets in an accident that causes injuries to another as a result. For example, if the brakes on a car that has not been properly maintained fail, causing the car driver to strike and injure a pedestrian, the car owner has breached his duty of care to the injured person. Had the car been properly maintained, the accident would not have happened.

Cause Examples

The injured person must show that the defendant’s breach of duty actually caused the accident that caused the injury. Sometimes this is very clear. For example, let’s say the driver of one car runs a red light, striking and injuring another individual. While this example demonstrates that all cause rests with the person at fault, not all cases are as clear-cut.


Damages are essentially an attempt by legal means to help the injured person recover as much as possible of the life that he or she had prior to the accident that caused the injuries. Damages include cost of medical treatment, lost wages, and the like. It is relatively straightforward to place a dollar value on property damage relating to a car accident, but not so easy to monetize an intangible such as pain and suffering, or to anticipate damages relating to future medical costs in the case of a person who was permanently disabled as a result of the accident.

Top-Rated Accident Lawyer Howard County MD

Jonathan Scott Smith is an experienced Howard County personal injury lawyer. Mr. Smith represents clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases involving accidents throughout Maryland and the Baltimore area. He is a top-rated accident lawyer, with over 30 years of courtroom experience.
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Injured in a Car Accident Caused by Another? Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Columbia, MD

To schedule an appointment with a personal injury lawyer at the Smith Personal Injury Law Firm in Columbia, MD, call (410) 441-5054 or contact us online. Put the skill and experience of a former prosecutor to fight for you.