What Does Negligence Mean?

If you or a loved one was hurt due to another person’s negligence, you may be entitled to obtain compensation. Our California personal injury attorneys can help. At the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth, PLC, we are ready to fight aggressively and strategically to obtain the compensation you are entitled.

To learn more about your case in a free, confidential consultation, call our law offices today at (479) 279-6268.

Defining Negligence Under California Law

Negligence is a common element in many personal injury cases. Negligence is the term used to define the lack of care a reasonable, prudent person should have in a given situation. For instance, a driver owes other drivers on the road a duty to drive safely. Negligence, in this case, arises when the driver operates their vehicle in a dangerous, reckless way. Most times, these reckless actions lead to devastating injuries and, in severe cases, death.

Negligence is a broad term that can apply to many different situations. Many states have incorporated different types of negligence, all of which have different effects over the compensation a plaintiff may recover after a claim has gone through the court process. Some of the different types of negligence that may apply depending on where the negligent actions occurred include:

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence is a legal doctrine that may apply in many personal injury cases. Through this doctrine, a person may be barred from recovering compensation if the other party can show the plaintiff contributed in any way to the accident. This means 1% of contribution to your accident will be enough to prevent you from recovering compensation. While very few states follow this rule, it still operates with full force.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is a legal doctrine that takes into account the percentage of negligence incurred by the parties involved in an accident. This means the defendant in an accident under this doctrine, may not be 100% liable. For instance, under the comparative negligence doctrine, a defendant may argue that the plaintiff was also responsible for the accident. The court will take this into account and will evaluate your percentage of liability in your accident. Different from contributory negligence, plaintiffs are not barred from obtaining compensation. Instead, their compensation is reduced based on their percentage of responsibility.

For instance, of the court granted you $50,000 as compensation, but you were found 10% liable, you will receive $40,000. It is essential to know that there are two types of comparative negligence. These different types of negligence are:

  • Pure Comparative Negligence – In pure comparative cases, an accident victim can recover compensation no matter their level of negligence.
  • Modified Comparative Negligence – In modified comparative negligence cases, a victim may obtain compensation. However, if their level of liability is more than 50%, they will be barred from receiving compensation.

Gross Negligence

Gross negligence refers to an amplified level of carelessness that goes beyond the normal expected behavior of a person. For instance, gross negligence can be the case of a driver who knows he’s driving on a school zone or drives drunk at a high speed. Such conduct goes beyond what is expected from a reasonable, prudent person, to the point of recklessness.

How is Negligence Proven in Court?

When fighting to obtain compensation, you, as a plaintiff, have the burden of showing that the other party was negligent. To achieve this, you will need to show the following four elements:


This is the first element to establish a negligence claim. Through the element of duty, you will need to prove the existence of a duty of care owed to you by the defendant. The duty of care can arise in different situations. For instance, a doctor has an obligation to provide high-quality medical services following the standards for medical care to all their patients. In this case, your doctor or treating physician has a duty by virtue of the doctor-patient relationship. Therefore, the moment your doctor makes affirmative actions to take care of you, their duty of care is enforced.


You will need to show that the defendant in your case breached their duty of care. Following the doctor-patient example, a breach can occur if your doctor did not take proper care of you. Breach of duty can happen due to actions or omissions. In other words, breach of duty can happen for doing something that should not have been done, or by not doing something that should have been done.


The element of causation requires the plaintiff to show that the defendant’s negligence is what caused their injuries or losses. You will need to link the defendant’s negligent actions to your losses.


Finally, you will need to show the court that you suffered losses justifying the concession of a remedy. For instance, you can show the court that you incurred in medical expenses and lost wages as a result of your injuries.

Proving these four elements is crucial to obtaining the compensation you deserve. Our personal injury lawyers can hold the liable parties accountable for your losses and fight for the compensation you are entitled.

California Personal Injury Attorneys Offering Free Consultations in Ventura and Santa Barbara

If you or a loved one was injured due to the negligence of a reckless, careless party, we may be able to help. At The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth, PLC, we can help you hold the liable parties accountable and fight for the compensation you deserve. Our Ventura and Santa Barbara personal injury lawyers understand the difficulties associated with an injury caused by a negligent person. That is why we dedicate our efforts to upholding and defending your rights as an injured victim. To learn more about your case in a free, confidential consultation, call our law offices today at (479) 279-6268.

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