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Difference Between Civil and Criminal Negligence

Difference Between Civil and Criminal Negligence

Negligence is the most important factor when deciding liability in a case. The legal definition of negligence isa failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.” 

In other words, it is a failure to act with a level of care that a reasonable person would have acted with in the same situation. Civil negligence, however, differs from criminal negligence. 

What are the Elements of Negligence?

Proving negligence is sometimes more of a process rather than an immediate decision made by pointing fingers. There are four elements that an attorney must prove in order to prove negligence:

  • Duty of care- the defendant had a duty of care to the plaintiff
  • Breach of duty- the defendant breached this duty of care by acting or failing to act in a reasonable manner
  • Causation- the defendant’s actions or failure to act led to the injuries and harm that you have suffered
  • Damages- to receive compensation, you must prove that the defendants actions caused damages  

There are a number of ways that your attorney can prove these different elements of negligence, including:

  • Testimony from a witness
  • Testimony from you, the client
  • Pictures of the vehicles after the accident
  • Street camera footage

What are Some Examples of Civil Negligence?

Civil negligence can take many different forms, and can also be quite hard to identify at times. A few examples to help better understand civil negligence include:

  • A restaurant owner who mops the floors and fails to put a wet floor sign in place when the floors are still slippery
  • A doctor who misreads a patient’s chart and operates on the wrong body part
  • A toy company who doesn’t put a warning label on their products, and as a result a child chokes on a loose part
  • A restaurant fails to accurately disclose allergens in a dish, resulting in a severe allergic reaction 
  • A company releases a skin care product without fully testing the ingredients, resulting in severe reactions from users
  • Property owner who is aware of but does not replace a faulty staircase, which later causes an injury 

What are Some Examples of Criminal Negligence?

Each state has its own criminal laws that decide what can be considered criminally negligent. Criminal negligence can be punishable with jail time. Some examples of criminal negligence include:

  • A pharmacist who prescribes addictive drugs to a known drug addicted patient in exchange for money or some other payment for their services.
  • A drunk driver who hits and kills someone because they were speeding 
  • A nurse who forgets to feed a patient who can not feed themselves, resulting in the patient starving to death
  • A parent who leaves a toxic substance, like bleach, near their unattended child and the child drinks it 

What Should I do if I was Injured as a Result of Someone Else’s Negligence?

If you or a loved one has been in an accident or suffered any kind of injury as a result of another person’s negligence, contact our Los Angeles Personal Injury attorneys at (310) 943-1171 for a free consultation. Our attorneys will evaluate the details of your case and let you know what to expect and how you can proceed. Our team speaks English, Spanish, and Armenian.

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