Negligence and Tort Law

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By Aaron Larson Law Offices of Aaron Larson October, 2003 Contents Proximate Cause The Elements of a Negligence Action Gross Negligence Children and Negligence Comparative Negligence Contributory Negligence Mixed Comparative and Contributory Negligence Vicarious Liability In general terms, negligence is "the failure to use ordinary care" through either an act or omission. That is, negligence occurs when: somebody does not exercise the amount of care that a reasonably careful person would use under the circumstances; or somebody does something that a reasonably careful person would not do under the circumstances. Negligence is often claimed in personal injury lawsuits. For example, a personal injury lawsuit…show more content…
Similarly, where a plaintiff signs a release (as may be required, for example, before entering a sports competition), for public policy reasons many jurisdictions will apply the release only to conduct which constitutes "ordinary negligence" and not to acts of "gross negligence". The reason for this is quite simple: It is not good public policy to allow a defendant to escape liability for reckless indifference to the safety of others, particularly in contexts where the defendant is responsible for creating unsafe conditions, or is profiting from their existence. Consider, for example, a commercial venture engaged in a high risk recreational activity, such as a company that offers rock climbing tours. If a tour member is injured when safety equipment provided by the company unexpectedly fails, a valid release may protect the company from a lawsuit. However, if the company knows up front that the equipment is defective and uses it anyway, it would not be protected by the release. Children and Negligence Minors are typically held to a different standard of care than adults. For example, a minor 's negligence may be evaluated against what reasonably careful person of the same age, mental capacity and experience would exercise under the same or similar circumstances. Very young minors (e.g., minors under the age of seven) are typically presumed to be incapable of negligence. Most jurisdictions also consider the fact that
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