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What Exactly Is Negligence?


When dealing with personal injury suits, especially those involving automobiles, malpractice, or hazardous workplaces, the term negligence is often throw around. Although you probably know what it means to be negligent as it’s used in everyday conversation, do you know how negligence applies to the law in the state of Florida?

What Is Negligence?

Negligence is failing to exercise the degree of reasonable care expected of someone in order to minimize the risk of harm to another person. According to Florida statues, negligence action means, without limitation, a civil action for damages based upon a theory of negligence, strict liability, products liability, professional malpractice whether couched in terms of contract or tort, or breach of warranty and like theories. The substance of an action, not conclusory terms used by a party, determines whether an action is a negligence action.

Four Elements To A Negligence Cause Of Action

In order for a plaintiff to prove that the defendant acted in a negligent manner, the plaintiff is required to prove four elements.

1) The defendant owed the plaintiff a “duty of care.” This essentially means that one party was obligated to act in a certain way toward another. For example, all drivers owe a duty to drive reasonably and safely to other drivers and passengers on the road.

2) The plaintiff must show that the defendant breached the “duty of care” he owed to the plaintiff. For example, when a defendant drives unreasonably, he breaches his obligation to safely and reasonably drive.

3) The plaintiff must show that the defendant’s breach of “duty of care” caused the plaintiff’s injury. Driving unsafely does not mean that a driver is necessarily negligent; people drive unsafely every day. If breaching the duty of care did not directly impact the accident, negligence will not be proven.

4) The plaintiff must show that he was damaged or injured in some way. These are typically displayed in the form of physical injury, financial injury, and possibly mental injury. If there is no injury, then there cannot be a negligence suit.

Pure Comparative Negligence Law In Florida

Florida operates under the pure comparative negligence standard, which means that whatever amount you were negligent, your recovery will be limited by that amount. For example, if you are suing another driver and a court rules that you are 30% at fault, or 30% negligent, then your damages will be decreased by 30%. This means that you will only be entitled to an award of 70% of the total monetary recovery you were seeking. Simply put, the pure comparative negligence standard apportions negligence among the various parties involved with the accident.

The purpose of the pure comparative negligence standard, which has been a law since 1973, is to demonstrate that the causes of accident are not always black and white. Multiple parties can act in a negligent manner, and each party should be held responsible for their negligence.

Proving fault can be difficult, and often requires you to give an account of the accident. Although the time when an accident occurs can be overwhelming, it is important to try to be diligent in remembering all details, and taking thorough records and accounts of what occurred. Any statements given to police or insurance agencies can be used when determining fault.

During his time as a public attorney for the State of Florida, Bernard Walsh developed a passion for defending the legal rights of Florida's citizens. Having seen many people being taken advantage of after being injured and the financial harm that can cause for families he committed himself fully to helping injured clients get justice, by fighting to make greedy insurance companies pay what they owe.

What Exactly Is Negligence?

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh




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