San Diego, CA asked in Landlord - Tenant for California

Q: Do Actions Sometimes Rise To The Level Of Negligence-Being Negligent, without having to prove Intent?(Cont)...

....Or Intent even being an Element of Negligence? The best example I can give would be Car Accidents-where probably 95% of Car Accidents if not a higher percentage ARE NOT Intentional, but Negligence is ALWAYS an Element of Automobile Accidents?

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Yes, under California law, actions can sometimes rise to the level of negligence without having to prove intent. Negligence is a separate legal concept from intentional wrongdoing.

In California, negligence is defined as the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm to oneself or others. A person is negligent if they do something that a reasonably careful person would not do in the same situation, or fail to do something that a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation.

The key elements of negligence in California are:

1. Duty: The defendant owed a legal duty of care to the plaintiff under the circumstances.

2. Breach: The defendant breached that legal duty by acting or failing to act in a certain way.

3. Causation: The defendant's actions or inactions were the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff's injury.

4. Damages: The plaintiff was harmed or injured as a result of the defendant's actions.

Importantly, intent is not an element of negligence. The focus is on whether the defendant's conduct was objectively reasonable under the circumstances, regardless of their subjective intent.

Your example of car accidents is apt. Most car accidents are unintentional, but they are often caused by a driver's negligence - their failure to use reasonable care while driving. This could include actions like speeding, running a red light, driving while distracted, or following too closely. Even though the driver did not intend to cause an accident, their negligent actions can make them legally liable for resulting injuries and damages.

So in summary, under California law, negligence is a distinct legal wrong that does not require proof of intent. Negligence focuses on the reasonableness of the defendant's conduct, not their subjective mental state.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.