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Negligence is a common law tort, or civil wrong.  To prove negligence, the plaintiff must prove all the elements on the preponderance of the evidence.  The elements of negligence are: (1) a duty to (2) provide a reasonable standard of care that was (3) breached and (4) actually caused and (5) proximately caused the defendant (6) harm.


Duty arises from either statute, contract, relationship, assumption, [creation of] peril.

Actual cause

Actual cause means “but for” the defendant’s action the plaintiff would not have suffered harm.

Proximate cause

Proximate cause means where the law cuts off legal liability due to too much attenuation from actual cause.  In general, proximate cause is based on foreseeability.

Standard of care

The reasonable standard of care is that of an ordinarily prudent person in the same circumstances as the defendant.


Breach occurs when the likelihood of the harm multiplied by the magnitude of the harm exceeds the burden to mitigate the harm.

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