Negligent Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Negligent, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Negligent?

Refers to the person who is found guilty of negligence ; who has a habit of being careless when it comes to being responsible.

History and Meaning of Negligent

Negligent is a legal term that has been in use since the 16th century in English common law. The word "negligent" comes from the Latin word "negligentia" which means "carelessness" or "inattention". In legal terms, it refers to a failure to exercise the level of care that a reasonable person would exercise in similar circumstances.

In tort law, a plaintiff can sue a defendant for negligent conduct. In order for a plaintiff to be successful in a negligence claim, they must prove that the defendant had a duty of care, that they breached that duty, and that the breach caused the plaintiff's injuries or damages.

Examples of Negligent

  • A driver is texting on their phone while driving and causes an accident that results in injuries to another driver. The injured driver can sue the texting driver for negligence.

  • A store fails to clean up a spill on the floor and a customer slips and falls, resulting in injuries. The customer can sue the store for negligence.

  • A doctor fails to diagnose a serious medical condition in a patient, resulting in harm to the patient. The patient can sue the doctor for negligence.

Legal Terms Similar to Negligent

  • Gross negligence: This term refers to a higher degree of negligence, where the defendant's conduct was especially reckless or careless.

  • Recklessness: In legal terms, recklessness refers to conduct that goes beyond mere carelessness or mistake, and is characterized by disregard for the safety or well-being of others.

  • Duty of care: This is the legal duty to exercise reasonable care when dealing with others to prevent harm.

  • Causation: This is the link between the defendant's conduct and the plaintiff's injuries or damages.