As defined by common law, actionable negligence represents a failure to do what is reasonable with regard to a recognized duty of care. It is an action that could be made, or one that could have been avoided without accepting an unreasonable risk or potential harm.
Required elements of actionable negligence
• The defendant had a duty of care towards the injured victim. It could be an assigned duty or one that the defendant had agreed to undertake, on a voluntary basis.
• The defendant had breached that duty of care.
• The defendant’s negligent conduct harmed the plaintiff.
• Proof that the plaintiff had suffered an unquestioned and decided level of harm
• The absence of any one of the 4 above-named elements destroys the claim that the defendant has carried-out an act of actionable negligence.
In a court of law, the jury must give consideration to specific aspects of the defendant’s background, and to the defendant’s perceptions.
What level of knowledge did the defendant have of the situation in which he or she behaved in a careless and neglectful manner?
What experiences had the defendant lived-through in the past, that were similar to the experience that pushed the defendant to behave in a negligent manner?
What perception did the defendant have of the person that became a victim of his or her negligent behavior? How had the defendant’s perception been created? Had someone else claimed that the defendant’s eventual target deserved to become the victim of someone’s careless and neglectful actions?
In what activity was the plaintiff engaged, when he or she got injured, as a result of the defendant’s negligence. Personal injury lawyer in Edmonton knows that a reasonable person approaches someone else with caution, if that approached individual is engaged in a potentially dangerous activity.
Perhaps the plaintiff was at a firing range, when approached carelessly by the defendant. Maybe the defendant foolishly reached for the plaintiff’s gun, causing him or her to become the victim of a self-directed gunshot wound. That fact would need to be considered by the jury.
Maybe the plaintiff was cutting meat on a cutting board in the kitchen. Perhaps the defendant made a loud and frightening entrance into that same kitchen. If that entrance scared the person working at the cutting board, that same person might have moved suddenly and suffered a terrible cut.
That is another example of how a set of facts, all pertaining to an interaction between the defendant and the plaintiff needs to be considered carefully by a jury. The same set of facts must be examined in relation to the information on the defendant’s knowledge, experience and perceptions. Following that examination, a jury should feel prepared to present the court with a well-considered and fair verdict.