What Is Negligence and How Is It Determined?

When it comes to personal injury, negligence is one of the key factors that may have caused your accident. If you’ve been injured and you are seeking a personal injury lawsuit in Houston, TX, then you may want to ask a lawyer if negligence was involved in your case. By looking at the evidence, a lawyer will be able to determine if you can seek compensation for the negligence that may have contributed to your accident and injury.

What Is Negligence and How Is It Determined?

For most people, being negligent means being careless, but when it comes to the law, negligence is much more than simply being careless. Legal negligence occurs when someone fails to execute a reasonable standard of care in any given situation. For example, it may be negligence if a physician failed to give basic medical treatment when any other doctor in the same situation would have maintained the standard of care.

So, how is negligence determined? In a personal injury lawsuit, negligence must meet several elements to be considered legally negligent. If negligence is involved in your case, then the negligent person will be liable for your injuries and your compensation. The elements of negligence include:


The duty element establishes that the person responsible for your injury had a duty in the circumstances of your accident to maintain a certain level of care. For a car accident, for example, all drivers on the road are legally obligated to operate motor vehicles safely and observe the laws of the road; drivers who do not maintain this level of care are typically considered negligent because they did not perform their duties as a driver to ensure the road was safe for everyone.

Duty can also be determined by the relationship between you and the person who may be responsible for your accident. For example, you and a physician have a patient-doctor relationship that establishes a standard of care the physician must meet when they are administering medical treatment. Duty can also be established by employees and employers, or people you have signed a legal contract with.


Breach is the element that identifies which actions or failure to act would not meet the standard of care any reasonable person would meet in similar circumstances. In other words, breach is the element that highlights what went wrong or what specifically caused your injury. Breach can include actions such as failing to render aid, driving over the speed limit, or not providing safety warnings for potentially dangerous situations in businesses or on private property.


Causation asserts that your injury was caused by a breach of duty from the person who is responsible for your injuries. Essentially, you are injured because someone who owed you a standard of care failed to meet that standard, and if that standard had been met, then you likely would not have been injured. For example, if a driver was not speeding, then you would not have been injured in an accident, or if a physician provided you with timely care, then you would not have medical complications.


Finally, the last element of negligence is proving that your damages were caused by the person who is responsible, either through action or inaction. For this element, your lawyer will have to outline each of your injuries and damages, and then prove how these injuries are related to the breach of duty that was involved in your case. The evidence for these damages can include photographs, video evidence, medical records, and more.

Each element of negligence is connected to another element. Without establishing the duty an individual may have toward you, you cannot establish a breach of duty, causation, or any damages. Legally, all of these elements must be met in order for you to be able to file a personal injury lawsuit under negligence. If your case does not meet the negligence elements, your legal team may explore other strategies for your lawsuit.

What Will Your Case Be Like in Houston, TX?

If you have a personal injury case in Houston, then you will need the help of a lawyer to gather the evidence to prove your case. The first step of your case will be contacting a lawyer for a case consultation; during this consultation, the details of your case will be discussed and a lawyer will use expert knowledge to assess whether or not your case qualifies for personal injury caused by negligence.

If a lawyer determines that you have an eligible case, the next steps will be gathering the evidence that will prove the elements of negligence and filing a lawsuit with the local court. Your lawyer will handle the legal documents required by the court to file a lawsuit and advocate for the compensation you deserve.

What Compensation Can You Claim?

The compensation associated with a negligence case is similar to other personal injury lawsuits. For example, the monetary compensation you can claim will be for damages associated with personal property, physical injury, and other expenses. It’s common for the compensation in these cases to pay for past, current, and future medical expenses associated with the injury caused by your accident.

Your compensation can also include loss of wages, loss of earning potential, loss of personal relationships, pain and suffering, and much more. There may also be additional compensation that will be awarded to you if there are special circumstances in your case, such as turmoil, emotional, and mental suffering resulting from the accident.

What Evidence Is Used for Your Case?

In addition to establishing the elements of negligence, your case will also need to have evidence that will back up your claims. The type of evidence you need will be determined by the type of case you are filing. For example, you would not be able to use the same type of evidence for a medical malpractice lawsuit and a car accident lawsuit.

Your evidence can include witness and expert testimony, video and photographic evidence, your medical records, police reports, and other documentation of the accident that caused your injury. Each piece of evidence will be used to prove the various elements of your negligence lawsuit. Usually, the evidence in your case will also be used to determine your compensation amount, particularly evidence about your damages and injuries.

Examples of Negligence

So, what type of cases typically qualify for negligence? In general, negligence can apply to virtually any situation where a careless breach of duty is possibly linked to a personal injury. However, the most common cases where negligence may be involved can include premises liability, workplace injury, medical malpractice, car accidents, and wrongful death. Each of these personal injury cases can include the elements of negligence.

Legal negligence is more than simple carelessness. In legal terms, negligence refers to a breach of duty that was owed to you which resulted in your personal injury. Proving negligence will have to meet four elements, including duty, breach, causation, and damages. Your case must meet all of these elements to qualify for a negligence personal injury lawsuit. Contact Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner in Houston, TX to learn more about the role negligence plays in your lawsuit today.