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Civil Law: Negligence In Tort Law

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Civil Law: Negligence In Tort Law

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Discuss about the Civil Law for Negligence in Tort Law.

In the given scenario, we can clearly see that Rebecca sustained severe injuries due to the negligent behavior of Michelle. Michelle continued to drive her car in spite of the fact that she was in an inebriated state and driving under the influence of alcohol. So, Rebecca is well within her right to sue Michelle in a court of law for the injury sustained by her as a result of Michelle’s driving under the influence of alcohol. Michelle being the driver of the car owed a duty of care towards her friend and fellow passenger Rebecca which she clearly failed to perform. Thus, Michelle could be charged under the tort of negligence and she would be liable for the injury that has occurred to Rebecca in the first place. Thus, Rebecca has the right to claim compensation from Michelle for the injury and damages which has been sustained by her due to the gross negligence of Michelle (Oberdiek, 2008).
Negligence in plain and simple terms merely denotes carelessness. However, in the legal context, the act of negligence essentially denotes that there has been a failure on the part of a person to exercise a standard of care which the perpetrator as a reasonable person should have exercised in those circumstances under which the accident took place. In the case scenario given before us, we can clearly see that the Michelle had a legal duty to take care of her co-passenger Rebecca when it was reasonably anticipated that failure to perform her duty was likely to cause injury to both Michelle and Rebecca.   According to Winfield and Jolowicz, negligence is defined to be a breach of duty towards a person which results in some kind of damage or harm to the person who was under the duty of the person causing the harm. In other words, negligence is considered to be the omission of certain affirmative action which could be expected from a reasonable man and which has not been performed in a certain situation thereby resulting in grievous injury or damage to another person (Goldberg et al. 2008).
Rebecca and Michelle were two friends who went to attend a performance called “An Ever Oprah” which has Oprah Winfrey. The performance was delayed owing to a ticketing issue and hence both the parties involved in the cases had engaged in activities like consumption of alcohol at a bar near their venue.
During the time of the performance, Rebecca saw the condition of Michelle and realised the fact that Michelle was too drunk to drive her car properly. She was skeptical and doubtful about Michelle’s driving skills but nevertheless accepted Michelle’s offer of driving her to her home. When Michelle started driving dangerously, Rebecca cautioned her and asked her twice to step out of the car but she did not respond to her demands and continued to drive in an inebriated state under the influence of alcohol. Eventually, her negligent behavior led her to crash the car which resulted in a serious injury for Rebecca.  Due to her negligent and rash driving, Rebecca broke her leg in the resulting accident (Mingyi, 2010).
In order to prove her case in front of the courts, Rebecca needs to evidence to prove that that defendant (Michelle) was negligent and was therefore liable for the injuries sustained by Rebecca from the accident.  There are various elements regarding the tort of negligence which Rebecca needs to prove if she wants to pursue her case and get compensation from Michelle for the damages and injuries which has been sustained by her from that accident. These elements are discussed below:
Duty – in Cases of negligence the verdict depends on consideration whether there was relationship of performing a duty towards the plaintiff by the defendant.The aspect of duty essentially arises because the law considers the relationship between the plaintiff and defendant and thus the court expects the defendant is obligated to act in a certain manner towards the plaintiff. The judgment is essentially going to be delivered by considering the fact whether Michelle owed a duty of care towards Rebecca and if it is ascertained that such a duty exists then the judgment will be delivered in Rebecca’s favour (Van Dam, 2013). 
Breach of Duty – this could be explained as negligence on the part of the person for fulfilling his/ her duty. A defendant is said to have the liability in such a scenario when he or she fails to fulfill duty towards the plaintiff. In this case it has been noticed that the defendant has been charged with breach of duty as the defendant could not exercise care while performing his duty towards the plaintiff. 
The breach of duty is essentially determined by a jury as a question of fact. If in the present scenario, the court finds Michelle guilty of breaching her duty towards Rebecca, she is like to face charges for drunken driving and Michelle has to pay compensation to Rebecca for the injuries sustained in that accident (Deakin et al. 2012).
Cause in Fact – This is also termed as the “but for” causation. In this case, the plaintiff tries to prove that the injury would not have occurred in the first place had the defendant acted in more responsible manner. It must be proved in the courts that the defendant actions were solely responsible for the injury that have been sustained by the plaintiff and only then can the plaintiff claim compensation from the defendant for the injuries sustained by her.
Proximate Cause – Proximate cause essentially determines the scope of a defendant’s responsibility in any case of negligence. A defendant in a negligence case is only responsible for those harms that the defendant could have foreseen through his/her actions. If the damages caused are beyond the scope of the risks which could have been foreseen, then the plaintiff would not be able to prove that the injuries sustained by them were solely caused due to the defendant’s actions (Oberdiek, 2008).
Damages – In any negligence case, the failure to exercise reasonable care must result in actual damages to that person whom the defendant owed a duty of care. This legally recognised harm could be in the form of physical injury to the plaintiff or damage to their property. If Rebecca is able to prove that she was suffered actual harm due to the irresponsibility of Michelle, then she can definitely sue her and claim compensation for her injuries (Lunney & Oliphant, 2008).
Mingyi, Y. E. (2010). The Differentiation Between Intention and Negligence in Tort Law and Its Significance [J]. Science of Law (Journal of Northwest University of Political Science and Law), 4, 013.
Van Dam, C. (2013). European tort law. OUP Oxford.
Goldberg, J. C., Sebok, A. J., & Zipursky, B. C. (2008). Tort Law: Responsibilities and Redress. Aspen Publishers.
Anson, W. R., Beatson, J., Burrows, A. S., & Cartwright, J. (2010). Anson’s law of contract. Oxford University Press.
Deakin, S. F., Johnston, A., & Markesinis, B. S. (2012). Markesinis and Deakin’s tort law. Oxford University Press.
Lunney, M., & Oliphant, K. (2008). Tort law: text and materials. Oxford University Press.
Oberdiek, J. (2008). Philosophical issues in tort law. Philosophy Compass, 3(4), 734-748.
Swisher, P. N. (2011). Virginia Should Abolish the Archaic Tort Defense of Contributory Negligence and Adopt a Comparative Negligence Defense in Its Place. U. Rich. L. Rev., 46, 359.

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