Understanding NEGLIGENCE in TORT LAW!




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Published on Nov 21, 2019

The tort of negligence is very simple if you break it down!

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There are 5 things to think about when answering a negligence problem. But first, to understand this tort (or civil wrongdoing) let’s think about it practically.

I want you to imagine your walk to work, or if you don’t walk to work, your walk from your car to your front doorstep. Place yourself there and imagine yourself doing it. OK now imagine someone running past you extremely fast and hitting into you. Now imagine you were carrying an antique case that fell on the ground after they hit into you and smashed into pieces. That’s potentially a negligent act.

1. DUTY OF CARE: So first you need to think, does this person running past you owe you a duty of care? Well we could say yes, as they are close to you and hit into you. They’re not some stranger in Madagasgar that has nothing to do with you. They are in close proximity to you and it was foreseeable that if they ran to fast they would hit into someone like you walking to work. So that’s one stage.

2. STANDARD OF CARE: Then think if they were close to you, did they breach the standard a normal person walking on the footpath should owe people? Probably yes, since they were running like a crazy person so fast they hit into you. A reasonable person would walk or run carefully on a footpath, not like an idiot and hit into you.

3. CAUSATION: Then you have suffered damage, which is the vase smashing let’s say. Did them hitting into you cause you to drop the vase? In this case yes. It’s not that you dropped it already then they hit into you, they hit into you then you dropped it because of that. So that’s the causation element.

4. REMOTENESS/FORESEEABLE:Then we need to think if the type of harm is foreseeable. For the vase, if it’s a $100k vase it might not be foreseeable that someone would carry such a randomly fragile and expensive item, so maybe this wouldn’t all be covered as a reasonable person wouldn’t expect to pay that when running negligently. But maybe some of it will be covered.

5. DEFENCES: Then you need to think if they have any defences, like were you also running like a crazy person and therefore did you contribute to the negligent act by also being negligent?

(Please note I am only a law student and do not intend for anyone to rely on this information. It is merely my understanding of this area of law. I accept no liability for anyone who has relied on this information for any purpose.)

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