The 4 Elements of Negligence


To legally hold someone at fault for your injuries after an accident, you must prove negligence. This means that the responsible party — whether an individual or a company — did not take a reasonable amount of care under the circumstances. In other words, you need to prove that the other party did not do what was necessary to prevent harm to others. This is accomplished by providing evidence of four distinct elements. 

The Elements Attorneys Use to Prove Negligence 

1. Duty of Care

The first element is duty of care, meaning the defendant was legally obligated to take care. A doctor, for example, has a legal duty to provide competent patient care, while a retail store must provide a safe environment for shoppers. Drivers have a legal duty of care to drive safely and responsibly, while manufacturers have a duty to customers to provide a product that meets safety standards. Proving duty of care is the foundation of any successful claim, since a party that does not have a duty of care cannot be found guilty of negligence.


2. Breach of Duty

The second element to proving negligence is showing that the duty of care was breached. This is done by showing that the defendant did not act as a reasonably prudent person would under similar circumstances. A successful claim depends on the plaintiff’s ability to show that the defendant’s action (or inaction) was not what the average person with the same knowledge or skills would have done. If someone knows that their actions could lead to injury but does them anyway, they can be found guilty of negligence. 

3. Causation

Not all negligence causes injury, and not all injuries result from negligence. Plaintiffs can only recover damages when they can prove that the defendant’s actions were the cause of their injuries. Causation also requires proving that the injuries were reasonably foreseeable. In other words, if there was no way that the defendant could have known their actions would cause injury, or the actions only indirectly contributed to the injuries, they are unlikely to be held liable. 

4. Damages

Finally, the injuries caused by negligence must have caused damages, or monetary losses. Damages can include medical bills, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering. Property damage can also result in the court awarding compensation to a plaintiff. Because the foundation of a negligence claim is to receive compensation for losses, being able to show what was lost is a critical element of these cases. 


If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, call Balderrama Law Firm for expert, compassionate counsel to help you collect the compensation you deserve. This Carlsbad, NM, firm is experienced in personal injury, car accidents, trucking accidents, oil spills, medical malpractice, and more. The experienced team will be by your side every step of the way, providing thorough and effective representation. To schedule a consultation, visit them online or call (575) 234-1111.


(505) 900-3834


(575) 433-2384


7401 Hancock Ct. NE, Suite B
Albuquerque, NM 87109


(575) 234-1111


(575) 885-6788


706 N. Canal Street Carlsbad, NM 88220