What is negligence?


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When it comes to personal injury compensation claims, the actual basis for making and progressing a claim is dependent on the attribution of blame – or negligence.

Put into simple terms, you must be able to prove that an individual or a company/organisation was at fault for the accident that caused your injury, and/or they failed to take any action or steps to prevent the accident.

The definition of negligence is:


the failure to take action to prevent harm from occurring, or it can refer to careless or thoughtless behaviour that ultimately causes harm to another.


When this is provable, the negligent (at fault) party will be legally liable for the accident. This is how legal negligence is assessed and determined in personal injury claims.

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Components of a negligence claim

So that a negligence claim can proceed and be successful there are four different components that must be proved by the injured party (or their legal team/solicitors).

These four components are:


The defendant must have a legal duty to the person harmed.


The defendant must have breached their legal responsibilities in some way, either by failing to act or by acting recklessly.


It must be provable that the harm directly resulted from the defendant’s action or lack of action.


Once all the other three components have been addressed, it must be established the extent to which the person or company at fault owe remuneration to the harmed person.


The first thing that must be established is that the defendant owed the injured party/claimant a legal duty of care

Duty can take many forms and if you are unsure then it’s best to talk to a legal expert first before progressing with a compensation claim.

Breach of duty

Once you have established duty you then need to demonstrate that the defendant’s actions (or failure to take action) breached their duty of care.

The court will also consider whether a ‘reasonably prudent person’ would have been expected to act in the same manner under the same circumstances.


The plaintiff must now show that the defendant’s actions/lack of action was a direct cause of their injury.  It is not enough that the defendant was negligent, it must also be provable that this negligence is what caused the injury.

This also extends to proving that the defendant could have reasonably been expected to have known that their actions could result in harm being caused.

This point of order is mostly to prevent people being found liable for damages resulting from ‘freak accidents’ that could never have been foreseen or expected.


Once the court is satisfied that the other three parts of the suit have been sufficiently addressed, the plaintiff will be compensated, usually with financial remuneration that reflects expenses such as medical costs and sometimes also pain and suffering.

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