What is "Negligence?"

We hear this term and about this concept a lot, but what does it really mean? In Virginia, in order to prove another person was "negligent," a plaintiff must prove that person owed the plaintiff a duty, that that duty was breached, and that that duty proximately caused the plaintiff harm.

In most personal injury cases the duty a person owes another person is the duty to use reasonable care so as to avoid harming them. Once a plaintiff has established the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, the plaintiff must prove the defendant breached that duty—that is, failed to use reasonable care. Once the plaintiff has proved a breach of the duty, the plaintiff must prove that the breach proximately caused injury to the plaintiff—that is, that the injuries would not have happened but for the defendant's breach. There may be more than one proximate cause of an injury.

Once the plaintiff has proved all of those elements, she must prove she was injured and the nature and extent of her injuries. The plaintiff has the burden of proof in personal injury actions—that is, the defendant does not have to prove anything, he must only show the plaintiff has not met her burden of proof.

Determining whether another person was negligent is very complicated and requires the advice of a competent personal injury lawyer. Please call the Virginia personal injury lawyers at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. it you believe you were a victim of negligence. The initial consultation is always free, and you do not pay a fee unless we recover money on your behalf.