Elements of Negligence

Elements of Negligence

The Four Elements That Decide Your Case

Accident injuries cause both physical and emotional pain and financial loss. Understandably, you want to recover damages and place the responsibility on the at-fault party. However, you are required to prove that negligence occurred and liability exists. To do this, you need to understand the four essential elements of negligence as they exist in the law.

If you have been injured by a negligent person, you have the right to file a legal claim against them to recover damages. The Myrtle Beach personal injury lawyer's at Morris Law Accident Injury Lawyers are here to help.

Definition of Negligence

Negligence exists when a person does not act according to an accepted standard of conduct. This means that the individual does not do something a reasonable person would or acts in a way that a prudent person would avoid. If this causes another harm, the at-fault entity or person is expected to compensate the injured party.

Your injury lawyer will prove negligence using four basic elements. He or she will use this assessment for determining fault as the cornerstone of a personal injury case. The four elements are:

  • Duty of care
  • Breach of duty
  • Causation
  • Damages

Let's delve into each component of negligence below.


Duty of Care

The first step is to determine if the party at fault owes the injured party (the plaintiff) a duty of care. Your personal injury lawyer will investigate the accident to determine this. The duty varies from one situation to another. In some cases, the defendant and the plaintiff had a relationship with one another where a duty of care existed. An example of this is the relationship between a patient and their doctor. The doctor is expected to provide a certain standard of care to their patient.

In another scenario, a person is expected to have a duty of care based on a particular activity. An example of this would be the duty of care every person has to drive safely, using reasonable caution.

Breaching the Duty of Care

This element involves the failure of an individual or entity to provide that duty of care. Here, the person would behave in such a way as to upend their duty to another individual or the community. The court will judge whether the average, prudent person would have acted in the same way. If the result of this deliberation shows that a prudent person would have behaved in a different way, then the duty of care is breached.

An example of this would be a driver who does not stop at a red light but passes through an intersection at a high speed. The expectation is that this behavior will cause a serious injury or a fatality. The driver would have broken their duty to others in the intersection.


This element is also referred to as cause in fact. The plaintiff must show that the negligence of the defendant caused their injury. Taken another way, causation is the link or bridge between the person's negligence and an injury the plaintiff suffers. It is not enough for a negligent driver to have breached their duty of care, the accident must result in an injury caused by their negligence.

In addition, the plaintiff's attorney will look at whether the defendant could have foreseen that his or her act might have resulted in an injury to someone else. An example would be a driver who drives through a crosswalk and hits a pedestrian. The driver would be expected to use caution when approaching a crosswalk and should have foreseen his or her actions could lead to a pedestrian injury.


The injuries suffered by the plaintiff result in financial consequences. This includes medical expenses such as treatment at the emergency room, hospitalization and, in some cases, surgical intervention. Aside from the cost of medical treatment, the injured party may be unable to work and incur lost wages. In some cases, the person may be unable to work at all and lose their benefits and long-term bonuses and retirement monies.

In addition to lost wages and medical expenses, the injured party may experience pain and suffering linked to their accident injuries. This includes anxiety, embarrassment and loss of the enjoyment of life.

How the Morris Law Accident Injury Lawyers Can Help

If you have been injured by a negligent person, you have the right to file a legal claim against them to recover damages. The staff and attorneys at Morris Law Accident Injury Lawyers are here to help. We will investigate your accident to determine if the four elements of negligence are satisfied. If so, we will file a claim to obtain the compensation you deserve. Call us at (843) 232-0944 in the Myrtle Beach area to schedule a free case review. You can also reach out to us online.


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At Morris Law Accident Injury Lawyers, we have provided compassionate and aggressive counsel to personal injury victims in Horry County, Aiken County, and throughout South Carolina since 2016. We are available 24/7/365 days of the year. Reach out and get your case evaluated at no cost.