What is Negligence in Personal Injury Law?

Accidents that lead to personal injuries could give rise to liability if the person who caused it was negligent. Defining negligence, however, is not always clear and straightforward. New York residents who suffer accidental injuries should always consult with a New York City personal injury lawyer to determine if they have a valid cause of action for it. If so, they may be able to recover monetary damages to compensate them.

At Douglas and London in Manhattan, we have many years of experience in representing victims of another party’s negligence. The answer to whether their injuries were the result of negligence inevitably turns on the specific facts of the accident.

Does Negligence Mean that Another Party Committed a Specific Act?

A party might be liable for negligently causing an accident if they acted carelessly. For example, driving a car and turning left into oncoming traffic. In other cases, a party may be liable for negligence for failing to take reasonable action that might have prevented an accident. For example, by failing to engage an emergency brake on a car that then rolled down a hill and struck someone else.

In every case, individuals and corporations are held to reasonable standards of conduct that will prevent someone else from getting hurt. When they fail to do so, through either careless actions or failures to act, they may be liable for negligence.

What Is an Injured Party Required to Prove for a Finding of Negligence?

In New York and in every other state, to prove negligence, an accident victim must show that the person who caused the accident:

  • Owed a duty of care to the victim.
  • Failed to adhere to that duty of care.
  • Caused the accident as a direct result of that failure of care.
  • Knew or should have known that the failure of care would cause harm; and
  • Caused property damage or personal injuries as a result of negligent conduct or failure to act.

The accident victim has the burden of proving these matters by a preponderance of the available evidence. This means that there must be a greater than 50% likelihood that the victim’s claims are valid.

Are the Standards for Professional Negligence any Different?

Certain licensed individuals, including doctors and lawyers, are held to generally higher standards of care. Those standards may be defined in statutes or through case law that addresses how those professionals must act– according to prevailing regional or national standards.

Any individuals who believe that they have suffered injuries as a result of professional negligence should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as  possible. Stricter procedural rules and shorter deadlines govern professional negligence lawsuits.

What Are Some Specific Examples of Negligence?

Victims of negligence can suffer injuries in countless ways and in many different circumstances, including:

  • Automobile accidents.
  • Slipping and falling on hazards that a property owner should have cleared.
  • Neglect or mistreatment in elder care facilities.
  • Emotional distress due to harsh or excessive treatment from civil authorities.
  • Harm from employees who were negligently hired or retained.
  • Surgical or other medical mishaps or misdiagnoses.
  • Inadequate or missing warnings about known hazards.
  • Contamination or defects in consumer products.

Negligence law ultimately strives to enforce the basic standards of care that individuals owe to each other. It accomplishes this goal by imposing the costs of property damage and personal injuries on the parties that fail to act per those standards. The personal injury attorney’s role in a negligence lawsuit is to explain how that failure caused the accident and the victim’s injuries.

They also demonstrate the total monetary losses that the victim suffered as a result of the accident. In most lawsuits where an accident victim is successful, they can recover their medical costs and expenses, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering.  

Contact us for a free consultation

Please contact us to schedule a free consultation if you have suffered injuries in an accident that was caused by another party. We will help you to understand if you have a reasonable basis to file a negligence lawsuit. We will fight to recover the largest damages award that may be available to compensate you for your injuries.


  1. www.law.com: Negligence. https://dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=1314
  2. www.lawshelf.com: Introduction to Negligence. https://lawshelf.com/coursewarecontentview/introduction-to-negligence/
  3. www.thebalance.smb.com: What is Negligence in the Legal Sense? https://www.thebalancesmb.com/what-is-negligence-in-the-legal-sense-398352