Thinking About Negligence, Recklessness, And Malice Like A Lawyer

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Three of the dominant concepts in injury law: negligence, recklessness, and malice, are all ideas that we feel like we have some intuitive grasp of. A personal injury lawyer, though, will tell you that these ideas have much more specific and narrow definitions than you might expect to hear. Let's look at these concepts in the way that an injury lawyer might.

Your Responsibility to Care

At the base of all American injury law lays a theory known as the duty of care. This is the fundamental responsibility that every single one of us has to ensure that no one comes to harm as the product of us doing something or failing to do something. Before a claim or a lawsuit can move forward, it must be established that it was foreseeable that something bad could happen and that it was possible to prevent it from occurring. If that's the case, then anyone who had the power to prevent it from happening had a responsibility to take care to ensure that it didn't.


Failing to deal with something is one of the most common reasons a person or an organization might be named as a defendant in a lawsuit or be the subject of an insurance claim. In cases of negligence, it means that an inaction or actions that fell short. An act of negligence is not inherently hostile, but it does lead to someone being harmed.

For example, a pedestrian being hurt by a visible heave in a crumbling sidewalk in front of a place of business may have grounds for filing a claim if they trip over the heave. First, they'll need to show they were indeed hurt, such as suffering a skull fracture. Second, they'll need to demonstrate that the property owner should've taken care of the sidewalk and had time to do so.


Reckless conduct covers actions that were intentional but involves cases where harm was not intended. If you go running down a hallway and collide with someone, that might be considered reckless. If they end up being hurt, they may have grounds for suing.


In cases of malice, it refers to intentional actions that led to deliberate harm. If someone cuts your car's brake lines and you end up in an accident, that would be considered malicious. Malice also covers things like wrongful deaths, police brutality, and similar matters adjacent to criminal law.

For more information, reach out to a local personal injury lawyer.