What is Negligence and How is it Determined? 

Dec 4

Personal injury law is designed to hold negligent parties accountable for the harm they cause. However, an injury victim must present evidence to prove negligence in order to obtain compensation. This can be more challenging than you might think, so always seek help from an Indiana personal injury attorney.


Elements of Negligence

Four general elements of negligence must be proven, whether a case is from a car accident, a dog attack, workplace injury, or other personal injury matters. The four elements of negligence are: 

  • Duty of Care
  • Breach of Duty
  • Causation
  • Damages

The first element of negligence is the duty of care. This is the obligation of one person to provide reasonable care to another where there can be foreseeable harm. A person can act or fail to act in a way that a “reasonable person” would under the same circumstances. For example, when operating a motor vehicle, any reasonable person would follow the rules of the road, drive with caution, and care for those around them. However, not everyone owes a duty of care to everyone else in all circumstances. At Blackburn Romey, we can advise you who may have owed you a duty of care to establish this first requirement.

The second element of negligence is breach of duty. This is the failure to behave in such a way that a reasonable person would under those same circumstances. Examples of breach of duty can be texting while driving, failing to contain or train your animals, or operating your business under the proper regulations and codes. 

Causation is the third element of negligence. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s actions are the cause of their harm and damages. An element of causation is whether the defendant could have foreseen that their action would cause damage to someone. When a floor is being mopped in a public place, a “Wet Floor” sign is to be displayed so as not to be liable for any injury. One can foresee an accident if they did not put the sign out while mopping. 

The final element of negligence is damages, or the harm that was caused by a person’s breach of duty. Damages are the result of the actions or omissions of the defendant. A slip and fall at a grocery store after the floors had been freshly mopped can result in physical harm. The plaintiff must prove that they suffered harm and the resulting damages, whether financial, physical, or mental. Damages can equate to things such as loss of wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.


How to Determine Negligence

By providing evidence of these four elements, it can be determined that a defendant was negligent in their actions and should be held responsible. Evidence will look different depending on the personal injury case. Witnesses, videos or photographs of the incident, any physical objects from the incident, etc., are all pieces of evidence that can help determine negligence in a case. 


Contact an Indiana Personal Injury Attorney

Speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney is the best way to identify the elements of negligence. An attorney can help determine what evidence is needed and the best course of action for determining negligence in a personal injury case. 

The attorneys at Blackburn Romey are here to help. Call us today for a free consultation at (833) 264.0903 or contact us online


Tom Blackburn

Blackburn Romey founding partner Tom Blackburn graduated with honors receiving a degree from Indiana University at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Initiating his legal career in 1977, he has been active in practicing law and currently serves as a member of the Indiana State Bar Association on the Ethics and Advertising Committees, the American Bar Association, the American Association for Justice, as a board member at the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, and as an appointed member of the Executive Committee for the State of Indiana for the National Trial Lawyers Association.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partner, Tom Blackburn, who has more than 47 years of legal experience, including over 39 years specializing as a personal injury attorney.