Negligence: Definition and Meaning

In general, there is a legal obligation to exercise caution when it is conceivably foreseeable that doing otherwise would likely result in harm. By failing to take necessary measures, many different types of injuries may be brought about by negligence.

What is Negligence

When one person owes another a duty of care and fails to use reasonable care to prevent harming other, that action constitutes negligence. When any such negligence causes substantial harm to others, in that case, the law put certain monetary liability that wrongdoer has to pay to victim.

Essentials of Negligence

The plaintiff must establish each of the following elements in order to establish negligence −

  • Duty to Take Care − One of the key requirements for negligence liability is that the defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty. The case laws that follow will shed some light on this crucial component. The plaintiff in Grant v. Australian Knitting Mills Ltd., 1935 AC 85, bought two pairs of woolen underwear from a store and contracted a skin condition while wearing an undershirt. The producers carelessly neglected to remove the extra sulfates from the woolen underwear while washing them. The makers' failure to uphold their duty of care led to their liability.

  • Responsibility − Donoghue v. Stevenson, 1932 AC 562, developed the concept and widened the purview of the duty by stating that it also extends to your neighbor.

  • The Plaintiff Must Be Held Accountable − It is insufficient if the defendant owed only a duty of care. Furthermore, it must be proven that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. The complainant in Bourhill v. Young, 1943 AC 92, was a fishwife who got out of a tram car. A motorcyclist was killed instantly when he collided with a motor car 15 yards away on the opposite side of the tram as she was receiving assistance to place her basket on her back. Due to the tram's obstruction, the plaintiff was unable to view either the deceased or the scene of the accident.

    She had only heard about the crash when she got to the scene and noticed blood on the road after the deceased body had been removed. She thus experienced a nervous shock and gave birth to an 8-month-old stillborn kid. She filed a lawsuit against the motorcyclist's heirs. According to the ruling, the plaintiff could not have filed a claim for damages because the deceased owed her no duty of care.

  • Breach of duty to take care − The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant breached his or her obligation to take care or failed to uphold that duty in order to establish negligence liability. In Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Subhagwanti, AIR 1966 SC 1750, a clock tower in Delhi's Chandni Chowk fell, killing several people. The building had a lifespan of 40 to 45 years, yet it was 80 years old. The structure was under the supervision of the Municipal Corporation of Dellhi, which was responsible for its carelessness.

  • Breach of Responsibility to Take Care − In order to prove negligence, the plaintiff must show that the defendant violated or disregarded his or her duty to exercise care. A clock tower in Chandni Chowk in Delhi collapsed, killing several people. This case was Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Subhagwanti, AIR 1966 SC 1750. The structure was 80 years old, even though it should have lasted only 40 to 45 years. The Municipal Corporation of Dellhi, which was in charge of the structure, was accountable for its negligence.


The goals of tort law are to compensate harmed individuals, hold culpable parties accountable, and deter others from engaging in harmful or careless behavior. The injured party may experience relief once the burden of the loss's repercussions has been transferred to the accountable party (who bears responsibility for the results of their actions) or another party better suited to handle the loss.

Typically, a party bringing legal action against the defendant may want monetary recompense as a form of damages. Restitution or an injunction may also be requested. Common law and state statutory law both define tort law. Judges have broad discretion in selecting which conduct may be recognized as legal wrongs, which defenses may be raised in opposition to any particular claim, and the proper measure and amount of damages when establishing the legal bounds of tort law based on the language of statutes.

Negligent torts are the most prevalent type. These are not deliberate actions, but rather those that occur when one party breaches an obligation to another party to whom they owe a duty by failing to act in a reasonable manner—that is, by acting in a way that a reasonable person would not. For instance, a medical clinic has a responsibility to give its clients a secure and welcoming setting in which to receive care. If a patient slips and falls on the clinic's front steps without the ice being cleared, it may be demonstrated that negligence was involved.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What are the four essential components of the negligence tort?

Ans. Four "components" must be proven in order to establish negligence: a duty, a breach of that duty, causation, and damages.

Q2. What negligence tort is the most prevalent?

Ans. By far the most common type of tort is negligence.

Negligence happens when someone doesn't act carefully enough and hurts someone else as a result. A person must have an obligation to another person in this kind of situation. They must then violate their obligation to act responsibly.

Q3. Which three negligence claim categories are most prevalent?

Ans. several forms of negligence Although it may appear simple, the idea of negligence can actually be divided into four different categories: gross negligence, comparative negligence, contributory negligence, and vicarious negligence or vicarious liability.

Q4. How can one establish negligence in a tort?

Ans. In order for negligence to be proven, the defendant must owe a duty to the claimant to use reasonable care to prevent harm to him or her. Intentionally causing harm cannot constitute negligence because the core element of the tort is the reckless inflicting of harm.

Updated on: 13-Mar-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started