The main difference between negligence and recklessness is that negligence has a lesser level of liability (state of being legally responsible for something) than recklessness. Negligence simply involves acting in a careless manner, while recklessness involves a person taking a risk while knowing his actions may cause harm to another.
In law, there are four fundamental theories of liabilities which can make a defendant liable for injuries he causes, depending on the type of lawsuit. These include intent, recklessness, negligence and strict liability.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Negligence
– Definition, Characteristics, Elements
2. What is Recklessness
– Definition, Characteristics, Elements
4. What is the Difference Between Negligence and Recklessness
– Comparison of Key Differences
Liability, Negligence, Recklessness
What is Negligence
In law, negligence refers to the failure to take proper and reasonable care, causing injury or loss to another person. In other words, this is a situation where a person acts in a careless or negligent manner, which leads to someone getting hurt, or someone else’s property getting damaged. The person who acts carelessly does not have to necessarily know with certainty this his action will cause, only that he could cause harm. People owe others responsibility and duty to act with reasonable care so that others won’t be harmed. For example, if we take road rules, drivers have a duty to follow the rules and drive safely. If a driver does look both ways before pulling into a busy intersection and causes an accident, this is a case of negligence.
Negligence can be a difficult legal area to define since it involves establishing and analyzing the elements of negligence of a particular case. According to most jurisdictions, there are four elements of negligence.
- Duty – the defendant has a duty to others to exercise reasonable care
- Breach – the defendant breaches the above duty through an act or culpable omission
- Damages – the plaintiff (accuser) has suffered an injury or loss due to the defendant’s act or failure to act
- Causation – injury or loss of the plaintiff is a reasonably foreseeable result of the defendant’s act or failure to act.
Moreover, some jurisdictions only recognize three elements: duty, breach and proximately caused harm. In contrast, some jurisdictions use five elements of negligence: duty, breach, actual cause, proximate cause, and damages.
What is Recklessness
Recklessness is the state of mind where a person deliberately pursues a course of action while consciously disregarding any risks stemming from such action. In law, if an individual acts with disregard for the safety of others and is conscious that his actions can bring harm to someone else, he may be liable for injuries or losses caused by his recklessness. Moreover, recklessness is less culpable than intentional wickedness but carries a greater liability than negligence. Drinking and driving, carrying a concealed weapon without proper license, using illegal substances in a public area, etc. are some examples of reckless behaviour.
Generally, a person’s conduct is deemed reckless if,
- that intends to commit the act in question while knowing it may cause harm or risk
- the risk caused by the above act is an unreasonable one
- this risk is significantly greater than negligent conduct
- the person involved knows or has reason to believe that others are present and in harm’s way
Difference Between Negligence and Recklessness
Negligence refers to the failure to take proper and reasonable care, causing injury or loss to another person. Recklessness, on the other hand, is the state of mind where a person deliberately pursues a course of action while consciously disregarding any risks stemming from such action.
In negligence, an individual not aware of the risk involved, but should have known what risks are. However, in recklessness, an individual is aware of the risk involved.
Recklessness carries a greater liability than negligence.
Negligence refers to the failure to take proper and reasonable care, causing injury or loss to another person. Recklessness, on the other hand, is the state of mind where a person deliberately pursues a course of action while consciously disregarding any risks stemming from such action. The main difference between negligence and recklessness is that negligence has a lesser level of liability than recklessness.
1. “Negligence.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 6 Feb. 2020, Available here.
2. “Negligence .” Law.com- Legal Dictionary, Available here.
3. “Recklessness.” Findlaw, 29 Nov. 2018, Available here.
1. “Negligence” By Nick Youngson (CC BY-SA 3.0) via The Blue Diamond Gallery
2. “Driving And Texting” (Public Domain) via PublicDomainPictures.net
Leave a Reply