Definition of negligence: what is it?


Negligence occurs when someone injures or causes a loss to another because of their careless or reckless behaviour. In everyday life, negligence could include a lack of care for the consequences of one’s actions or using less care than that of a reasonable person.

For example, there is an offence of ‘negligent driving’.

Legal definition of negligence

Negligence is the most common tort, and can be defined as conduct which falls below the standard required to protect others against unreasonable risk of harm. Once a duty of care is established, any breach of that duty resulting in financial or personal injury falls under negligence law, such as:

  • From a solicitor to their client
  • A dentist to their patient

However, it is not enough to say that a third party owes you a duty of care, which they breached and has resulted in loss to you. You must also prove that their negligence was a direct cause of the loss and that any loss suffered is not too remote.

These principles can be further explained to you by either a personal injury lawyer or a professional negligence lawyer. In either case you should contact one immediately if you have suffered as the law places a time limit on you by which you must have brought your claim or risk becoming barred from doing so.

When might negligence arise?

Negligence can arise in many situations, including:

  • On the road
  • Medical and health care
  • At work
  • Work carried out by professionals, e.g. lawyers, accountants, surveyors, architects, etc
  • Work carried out by tradesman, builders, engineers, etc
  • Faulty products

Getting legal advice - let us help

Before the commencement of litigation a prospective claimant should contact a specialist solicitor to consider the likelihood of success of any claim. The solicitor will be able to establish the likelihood of the success of the claim by considering, through the use of statute and case law, whether there is a duty of care.

Negligence crops up across the board in law and can apply to many areas. It is advisable that if you have a claim against someone else because you believe they have been negligent you contact a solicitor that specialises in that particular area of law.

For example, if a person has been negligent and as a result you have suffered personal injury, you should contact a personal injury solicitor. If however someone else’s negligence has resulted in you losing out financially, you should contact a solicitor that specialises in the relevant area.

If you have suffered negligence at the hands of a health care professional, see our dedicated page on clinical negligence.

Have you been a victim of negligence from a professional, or someone who owes you a duty of care? Negligence occurs within many areas of law and it is important to get a specialist for your particular legal issue. Contact Law can put you in touch with a specialist solicitor to handle your case and resolve the issue effectively. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

0800 1777 162
or fill in the form
Our trained advisor contacts you
Your chosen specialist solicitor calls you
Quick enquiry form
Area of law:
What our clients say about us
"This was the first time I've been to court, which was a nerve-racking experience for me. However, I felt very prepared, I understood my case and representation - this was down to you."
Gavin, criminal motoring, Oct 15
"Your service, and the prompt call back from your recommended firm was very good. I would not hesitate to call again or recommend your service."
Ian, employment law, Truro, July 15
"The firm were excellent, could not have been better! They are exactly what I need right now."
Linda, criminal defence, Thames Ditton, Jul 15
"Your contact and service was immediate and utmost professional, 10/10."
TF, conveyancing, Dudley, Jun 15
"I appreciate the service that you provide. I found you to be courteous, efficient and reassuring at a time when my confidence in justice is completely negative."
Patrick, litigation, Pontypridd, Jun 15
"I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the speed of which you came back to me in. If anyone else can benefit from your help like I have done, it would make my day."
Gail M, family law, Potters Bar, Jun 15
"Your assistance was extremely helpful. Particularly to someone who in 40 years of business has never experienced this sort of issue."
TD, commercial litigation, Galashiels, Apr 15
"It is difficult to express the value Contact Law has to someone like me who had very little understanding of the law and how to proceed forward with my case. Thank you for the service you provided."
AE, defamation law, Worthing, Apr 15
"Thank you for the efficient service I received. I was contacted by your solicitor on the same day as my request. Your quick response to my situation made me feel secure."
AN, employment law, London, Apr 15
"Your service was excellent, very fast and informative. I never got the impression of being pressurised at all. The solicitor you recommended was also excellent – very knowledgeable and supportive."
JHD, Motoring law, Liverpool, Apr 15
Contact Law supports the endeavours of STAE and commends all the work they are undertaking to assist in the plight of the Asian Elephant


We use cookies on the Contact Law site to help us improve it.

If you would like to allow our cookies, please click 'Continue' or carry on browsing. For more information on cookies and how to change your settings, click 'More info'.