Negligence – An Introduction

Introduction to an Ever-Present Legal Concept

Negligence is one of the most common claims in a lawsuit. In brief, negligence has 4 total components:

1. Duty. A party has an obligation to another party, or to the public.

2. Breach. A party’s action, or failure to act, did not meet such party’s duty. In other words, the party acted differently than a reasonably prudent person would act.

3. Causation. Such breach caused, at least in part, damage to another party, and the damage was to some extent reasonably foreseeable.

4. Damages. A party was damaged in some way, whether it be bodily injury, incurred medical expenses, lost earning capacity, or pain and suffering, among others.

Negligence can apply to an endless variety of situations, such as medical treatments, car accidents, business dealings, unsafe conditions in public or private property, and so on.  Specific, recent examples of negligence in the law include:

1. Hotel liable for $3.5 million for giving key to wrong person.
Here, the hotel receptionist gave a man a key without asking him for identification. The man proceeded to use the key to enter a woman’s room, and rape her.  In general terms, the hotel (1) had a duty to keep its guests rooms secure, (2) breached such duty [although the breach was by an employee, the hotel itself is also held responsible – see concept of Respondeat Superior], (3) could foresee that problems such as theft, violence, or even rape may result, and (4) the victim suffered severe post-traumatic stress.
(Source: Daily Journal, April 28, 2017, Rape Victim Wins $3.5M from Kern County Jury).

2. County of Los Angeles liable for $3 million for negligent lifeguard.
A drowning occurred at a County pool with lifeguards present. The parents of the drowned victim claimed the lifeguards were negligent.  Rather than go to trial, the parents settled with the County for $3 million.  As the case settled, the County did not admit to liability. However, it can be reasoned that (1) the lifeguards had a duty to look out for the safety of swimmers, (2) the lifeguards may have in some way fell short of such duty, (3) drowning was foreseeable, and (4) the drowning resulted in the loss of the son’s love, companionship, comfort, and care, among other damages.
(Source: Daily Journal, August 18, 2017, Verdicts and Settlements).

Kimura London LLP, a law firm, represents and counsels both individuals and businesses (1) to formulate best practices for negligence prevention, (2) to identify and assess a potential negligence claim, (3) to pursue a legitimate lawsuit based on negligence, as well as (4) to defend against potential and existing negligence claims.