Before a defendant can be held legally responsible for harm caused by his or her negligence, the plaintiff must prove four elements:
- The first is that the defendant owed the plaintiff a legal “duty” to follow an accepted standard of care.
- Next, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant “breached” that legal duty by acting or failing to act in the way that a “reasonably prudent person” would under similar circumstances.
- The third element requires that the plaintiff prove that the defendant’s negligence “caused” his or her injury.
- Lastly, the plaintiff must prove that the harm or injury sustained caused calculable and compensable damages. The plaintiff’s attorney must determine if all of these elements apply.
HINT: If a defendant in a negligence case could not have reasonably foreseen that his or her actions would cause injury to the plaintiff, the defendant will not likely be held liable.