personal injury spartanburg

What Is Negligence in Personal Injury?

Negligence is a key part of a personal injury case. In law, negligence means the failure to exercise the level of care towards another person that a prudent person would exercise in similar circumstances. Though this definition may differ from the one you can easily find in an ordinary dictionary, the legal definition becomes extremely important when we are trying to determine or prove whether a personal injury claim was negligent. In this article, we will delve into the definition of negligence and key factors to understand its role in a personal injury claim. If you’re looking for a personal injury attorney in Spartanburg, do not hesitate to contact Cummings & Lewis today.

What is Negligence Per Se?

Negligence, per se, means negligence in itself. This is a legal doctrine that applies in many states in civil lawsuits that says that negligence can be assumed based on the defendant violating a law or regulation aimed at protecting the victim from the harm the defendant caused. This doctrine can be invoked when harm has been claimed. In other words, the plaintiff must show the defendant broke the law and that harm resulted as a direct cause of negligence, but there’s no additional evidence needed on the part of the plaintiff to show the defendant was negligent. 

This doctrine is essential in the context of personal injury, as it can make it much easier for the victim to recover damages. The jury no longer has to determine if the defendant’s actions were unreasonable or not; they are just assumed to be if the conduct violates an applicable rule, regulation, or statute. 

Personal Injury Negligence

Personal injury and negligence go hand in hand. The Legal Information Institute defines a personal injury as a harm that affects a person’s body, emotions, or reputation, as contradistinguished to injury to property rights. As you can see, based on what we’ve said before, negligence and personal injury have a cause-and-effect relationship. Put differently, negligence on someone’s part causes someone else to sustain a personal injury. 

Elements of Negligence in Personal Injury

There are four elements of negligence that must be established for a claim of negligence to succeed, which are: duty of care, breach of duty of care, causation, and harm and damages. It’s not enough to prove just some of the elements; in order to receive compensation for the injuries, plaintiffs must prove all the elements of negligence. 

  1. Duty of care is based on the premise that members of society have entered a social contract that includes a duty to not cause harm to others. When we discuss this element, the goal would be to demonstrate that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. Though it might seem difficult to prove, this is actually the easiest element of negligence to establish. The breach of duty of care needs to be established after determining that the defendant owed them duty of care. Here, they have to prove that the defendant didn’t fulfill that duty, and the reasonable and prudent person standard is discussed.
  2. Causation: two types can be established. One of them is cause in fact of the injury. This is when a plaintiff establishes cause in fact by showing that the defendant was the actual cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. The other one is proximate cause, which refers to the foreseeability of the damage or injuries that resulted from the defendant’s actions.
  3. Harm and damages: it must be determined that the plaintiff suffered harm as a result of the defendant’s actions. This harm is to be converted into a dollar amount, which is usually done by presenting monetary evidence of the harm, such as medical costs incurred by the plaintiff and any lost wages or income.

Difference Between Fault and Negligence

As you might have noticed, fault and negligence are not the same thing. When someone is at fault, they can be directly attributed as the cause of an incident, such as a car accident or property damage. Negligence, on the other hand, involves a much broader range of scenarios where the failure to exercise reasonable care leads to harm, regardless of direct causation. Besides, the degree of culpability differs between being at fault and a negligent act. Negligence may include actions that are unintentional but still demonstrate a failure to exercise reasonable care. 

Different Types of Negligence in Personal Injury Claim

There are various types of negligence to keep in mind when determining liability in a personal injury case. It’s also relevant to remember that not all these types of negligence exist everywhere, as some states don’t recognize different degrees of negligence or only recognize one in particular. An example of this would be New York, which is a comparative negligence state, meaning that no cases in that state would be resolved using contributory negligence.

Vicarious negligence

Vicarious negligence is a type of negligence that occurs when an entity or an individual is found liable for the negligence of someone else. Also known as vicarious liability, vicarious negligence is commonly seen in the employment context, where an employer might be found vicariously liable for an employee’s negligence while on the job.

Gross negligence

The definition of gross is unattractive, bloated, or large; so, when a person acts with gross negligence, they’re acting with a reckless disregard for the harmful consequences of their actions, even if there wasn’t intent to commit harm. This is the most serious type of negligence, and a finding of gross negligence can result in a higher amount of damages to pay. Put simply, this kind of negligence is a very severe breach of duty. The biggest difference is in the severity of the consequences and the type of damage. A victim of gross negligence can sue for punitive damages. These are damages meant to punish the defendant so that he or she does not commit the gross act again.

Professional negligence

Professional negligence occurs when a professional fails to fulfill the professional duties or obligations that they were hired by their clients to fulfill. When someone agrees to perform professional services for someone else who needs these services, the hired professional must exercise reasonable care in providing these services. In order to avoid a claim of professional negligence, the professional must adhere to the same standard of care that a well-qualified professional acting under similar circumstances would.

Personal Injury Lawyers in Spartanburg at Cummings & Lewis

Negligence is a very important factor when it comes to personal injury claims, as these two terms go arm in arm, as they have a cause-effect relationship. When trying to resolve a personal injury claim, determining negligence is a key part of the process, and it’s crucial to have in mind the different types of negligence in order to determine the amount of damages to pay.  If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you need an experienced personal injury lawyer in Spartanburg to guide you through a personal injury claim, don’t hesitate to contact us!


With 50+ years of combined legal experience, the attorneys at Cummings & Lewis, LLC represent people who need legal assistance. Our size, experience, and legal knowledge allow us to represent people who face all sorts of legal concerns in state and federal courts.

Call Now