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Negligence

The civil law of tort deals with the rights and responsibilities of one person towards another. A tort is a civil wrong and negligence is the most common civil wrong. Generally a person bringing a negligence action will have suffered an injury or damage to their property and they will be looking to recover compensation for their loss. In order to claim it will have to be shown that a duty of care is owed, that the duty is broken and that loss or damage has been suffered. Many civil cases are settled before court trial but both pre-trial and trial procedures are outlined. The principles used for calculating the award of damages are outlined.

A negligence claim initially needs to show that the defendant, who injures the claimant, owes the claimant a duty of care. This establishes a legal relationship between the parties and allows the claim to proceed to the next stage. It then has to be shown that the defendant’s act or omission fell below a certain standard – below that of the reasonable person. Finally it has to be shown that the defendant’s act or omission caused the loss or injury to the claimant.

Civil claims are open to negotiation or settlement between the claimant and defendant and a case will only come to court if a settlement cannot be reached. A claim will be administered through the court process by the judge who will hear the claim and assess the evidence. The judge will decide if the defendant is liable and decide the amount of any damages to be paid and who bears the costs of the case.

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