The Five Elements of Negligence

After centuries of glacial development in the English forms of action, negligence law in America began to take shape during the 1830s and 1840s as a general theory of liability for carelessly caused harm. Conveniently (if roughly) dated to Chief Judge Shaw’s 1850 decision in Brown v. Kendall, negligence emerged as a distinct tort sometime during the middle of the nineteenth century. The essence of the tort was that a person should be subject to liability for carelessly causing harm to another. Also essential to negligence, evident from an early date, was the necessity of a causal connection between the defendant’s breach of duty and the plaintiff’s damage that was natural, probable, proximate, and not too remote.

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