Understanding core legal terms: negligence

On Behalf of | Feb 8, 2021 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

In Connecticut, as in many other jurisdictions, injury law comes from the concept of negligence. This is a specific legal term, somewhat separate from the general definition of being neglectful or careless. 

The basic idea is that accidents happen. However, if someone contributed to them or caused them, that person should take responsibility. 

The definition of negligence

According to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute, negligence represents a failure. If someone behaves in a way contrary to what another person of good judgment would have behaved, that could constitute negligence. 

For example, someone driving drunk would almost always constitute negligence. So would texting while driving. 

Negligence in state law

Many state laws expand on the idea of negligence. This creates a system in which the amount people might recover for their losses varies from one jurisdiction to another. 

As explained on FindLaw, Connecticut is a comparative negligence state. The party starting a lawsuit should be less than 51% at fault for the injuries. 

Injured people often have some amount of fault. Imagine a driver who speeds through a four-way stop sign, hitting a person who is turning right at the intersection. 

The person making the right turn at a stop sign might not look left to check for rapidly approaching vehicles. That could contribute to the injury. However, it would be far less negligent than ignoring a stop sign at high speed. 

Why this concept is important

This idea of assigning blame matters because people are only liable for losses in direct relation to their percentage of fault. Therefore, negligent parties usually make arguments to minimize their own negligence and maximize that of others. 

Negligence becomes even more complex when multiple parties enter a lawsuit. Although the basic concept is simple, organizing cases within this framework usually requires significant work.