A reader asked me for a definition of negligence. Before I give you my definition, look here for a definition that is a lot more detailed and pretty good.
Okay, so now that you read that (or maybe didn’t), what is negligence? Negligence is acting unreasonably. Great, what is unreasonable? Unreasonable is doing something other than what a fictitious, reasonably prudent peron in our society would do.
Let me give you some examples: If you are driving a car, a reasonable person would keep a safe following distance so as not to hit the car in front. If you are riding a bike, a reasonable person would not cross the street against a red light. If you are walking Cujo, a reasonable person would not let him off-leash when a 4 year old boy is coming up to you.
Those examples are pretty clear cut. But, what about other situations? A reasonable person probably does not run his dishwasher without checking to make sure it does not leak. After all, most of us know that dishwashers leak over time. A reasonable person probably does not start to cut down a tree and then stop half way through.
Each situation needs to be analyzed independently. If you think someone wronged you, think in terms of the reasonable person. Then you can figure out negligence.