Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 53

negligence - Breach of the duty of reasonable care, Additional elements of the claim: Proximate Cause

plaintiff damage relationship prove

A tort (or delict, in Scotland) applicable to a very wide range of situations. To succeed in negligence, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed him or her a duty of care, that is, the legal obligation to take reasonable care to avoid causing damage. There is a duty to take care in most situations in which a person's actions may cause physical damage to others or to their property. The plaintiff must also prove that the duty was breached in this instance, and that the breach caused damage to the plaintiff (known as actual or proximate cause in the USA). Road accidents are a common source of negligence claims. It is not sufficient to show that there has been an incident; negligence must be proved, although only to the standard of ‘the balance of probabilities’. In the case of pure economic loss, where no physical damage is involved (eg poor investment advice), it may also be necessary to establish a relationship of special trust, often called a fiduciary relationship based on reliance by the plaintiff on the defendant's actions or statements.

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