The law of negligence requires that persons conduct themselves in a manner that conforms with certain standards of conduct. Where a person’s actions violate those standards, the law requires the person to compensate someone who is injured as a result of this act. In some instances, the law of negligence also covers a person’s omission to act.
In tort law, negligence is a distinct cause of action. The Restatement (Second) of Torts defines negligence as “conduct that falls below the standard established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm.” Negligence generally consists of five elements, including the following: (1) a duty of care owed by the defendant to the plaintiff; (2) a breach of that duty; (3) an actual causal connection between the defendant’s conduct and the resulting harm; (4) proximate cause, which relates to whether the harm was foreseeable; and (5) damages resulting from the defendant’s conduct.
In some instances, a statute or other law may define specific duties, such as the duty of a person to rescue another. Professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, are also required to uphold a standard of care expected in their profession. When a professional fails to uphold such a standard of care, the professional may be liable for malpractice, which is based on the law of negligence.