If you were hurt in an accident, you might be wondering about your legal rights and options to pursue compensation for the harm you caused.

Most personal injury cases are based on the legal concept of negligence. Therefore, it is critical that you understand this term and how it may impact your case. Here is everything you need to know about negligence. 

What Is Negligence? 

What Is Negligence? 

Negligence is a legal principle that stands for the idea that when a person’s careless actions cause someone else to suffer harm, that person should be financially responsible for the harm they cause. Your ability to recover compensation in a personal injury case may rely on this concept. 

In a negligence case, it is not necessary to show the defendant intended to harm you. Instead, you must show the defendant was careless. Negligence is one legal principle that can apply to personal injury cases. Others are intent and strict liability

Elements of Negligence 

Negligence consists of four legal elements, which you must prove by proof by the preponderance of the evidence:

Before you can establish anyone owes you compensation for an accident, you must establish they owed you a legal duty of care. The legal duty depends on various factors, such as the actions involved and the relationship between the parties. Some common examples of legal duty include:

  • Drivers owe a legal duty to all other road users to drive safely and obey traffic laws
  • Employers must keep their workplaces safe
  • Property owners must keep their property in a safe condition 

In the absence of some other written law, the general duty of care one person owes to another is to act with the same level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would exercise under the same circumstances. 

Breach of Duty

After you establish the legal duty that applies to your case, you must prove what the defendant did or did not do to breach the duty

The breach of duty depends on the type of case, such as:

Car Accidents 

In a car accident, you may be able to show the other driver breached their duty of care by violating traffic laws or driving in a careless manner by:

  • Texting and driving
  • Engaging in other distracted driving behaviors
  • Speeding
  • Running red lights or stop signs
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way
  • Making unsafe lane changes

Examples of evidence you can submit include accident reports, witness statements, and photos and videos of the crash or crash scene.

Truck Accidents 

Trucking companies and their employees must follow various federal rules that pertain to:

  • Licensing 
  • Hours of service
  • Hiring and supervision standards
  • Drug and alcohol testing
  • Inspection and maintenance of trucks
  • Loading of truck cargo

A breach of duty could occur if they broke these rules and doing so contributed to the accident. 

Workplace Accidents 

Employers must follow workplace safety rules and maintain a safe workplace for their employees. Additionally, third parties may contribute to workplace accidents if they create dangers in the workplace or otherwise act carelessly. 

Slips and Falls

Owners of property owe a duty to keep their property in a safe condition to prevent accidents to visitors. They could breach the duty of care if they create a dangerous condition on the property or fail to correct a hazard on the property they should have known about.


The next element is connecting the breach of duty and the underlying accident. It is not enough to show that the defendant acted in a careless manner. Instead, you must show that the defendant’s actions caused your injuries. 

For example, a car accident that would not have occurred if the distracted driver was not texting while driving. Or, you would not have slipped and fallen if the property owner had cleaned up a spill on the property.

To successfully assert your negligence claim, you must establish factual cause (as described above) as well as proximate cause. The latter type of cause entails showing that it is foreseeable the at-fault party’s actions would lead to an accident.


Finally, you must show that you suffered measurable damages because of the accident. Damages can be economic or non-economic in nature, such as:

An experienced Phoenix injury attorney can discuss the potential compensation that may be available for your claim. 

What If More Than One Party Is Negligent? 

Arizona uses a pure comparative negligence system that apportions the percentage of fault between parties who contributed to the accident. For example, if Defendant A and Defendant B were 40% and 60% responsible for the accident, respectively, Defendant A would be responsible for paying 40% of the damages, and Defendant B would be responsible for paying 60% of the damages. 

The same concept applies if you contributed to the accident. Your degree of fault would be apportioned and then subtracted from the damages you could recover.

New Mexico is also a pure comparative negligence state. You can hold all parties responsible for their share of fault for your accident. However, you can also be held liable for your percentage of blame — your compensation will be reduced to account for your share of fault.

An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

It can be difficult to prove negligence, especially if you are suffering from injuries and have other responsibilities to deal with. However, an experienced personal injury lawyer from Curiel & Runion Personal Injury Lawyers can help.

They will know what type of evidence to look for and how to establish your legal right to compensation for the damages you have suffered, so call us today at (602) 595-5559 to schedule your free consultation. We have offices in Phoenix, AZ and Albuquerque, NM. Contact us today!