How Do You Prove Negligence?

AUTHOR: A.J. Bruning | October 22, 2015
How Do You Prove Negligence?

Negligence is a cause of action based on the principle that people should be held to a certain level or standard of conduct; violation of that standard warrants financial compensation for behaving or performing in a way that places others at an unreasonable risk of harm.1

Elements of Negligence

There is five essential elements to proving a negligence case. First, it must be established that a duty of care was owed by the defendant to the plaintiff.2 In some cases, such as auto accidents this is easier to prove since all drivers possess a duty towards others, merely due to the operation of a motorized vehicle. Determining that a duty exist is often contingent upon the recognition of a relationship between the defendant and the plaintiff.3 Second, there must be a breach of that duty.4 For a breach to occur, there has to be a failure to exercise reasonable care which can occur, because of inaction or action on the part of an individual.5 Next, there must be an actual causal connection between the defendant’s conduct and the resulting harm.6 This type of causation is often referred to as cause in fact of but-for causation, because it requires that the plaintiff’s injuries to have occurred directly because of the actions by the defendant.7 Fourth, negligence requires proximate causation where there must be a determination of whether or not the harm was foreseeable.8 Proximate cause is a question of scope in determining liability, because it creates a limitation on responsibility by stating that if an injury is created by the defendant, but is outside the scope of what is reasonably foreseeable then proximate causation cannot be proven.9 Finally, there has to be actual damages resulting from the defendant’s conduct which could include property damage or personal injury.10

Complications in a Negligence Claim

In proving a negligence claim one of the complexities is being able to argue against the defenses that will be raised by the defendant. Some of the most common doctrines or theories used against a negligence suit include contributory negligence, comparative fault, and assumption of risk.11 Under each of these doctrines, the basic principle is that the plaintiff acted in a way that removed the plaintiff’s chance of protection or contributed to the harm or played a role in the negligence which then justifies a reduction in the amount of recovery.12

Contact an Experienced St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation

If you have suffered a personal injury attributed to the carelessness or negligence of another, it is important to discuss the circumstances of your injury with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help to protect your legal rights and interests to compensation. To contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation please feel free to call the The Bruning Law Firm trial attorneys at 314-735-8100.



A.J. Bruning


I was born and raised to represent individuals who have been needlessly injured. I mean that literally. At a young age my father would tell me about the clients he was representing. I would meet them and take pride in their admiration of my father. I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer and represent clients that needed my help.

Author's Bio

You Might Also Be Interested In