The negligence test is as follows:
1. Did the defendant owe the plaintiff a duty of care? Here you look to see whether the
defendant has a duty of care not to conduct himself in such a way as could cause harm to
another. You determine the duty of care using what is called the reasonable man approach. To
determine whether a duty of care exists, you ask yourself, how would a reasonable man conduct
himself or how should he conduct himself towards others. For example, we expect that a
reasonable man would not get into a car and drive it while drunk. A second example would
be we would expect a reasonable man to put down salt on an icy driveway to make it safe.
Society also imposes similar and other duties on individuals. If the answer to the first question is
no (there was no duty of care), then there is no negligence and you stop at this question. If the
answer is yes, you go on to question number 2.
2. Did the defendant breach the duty of care? Here you look to see whether the defendant by
his conduct did not fulfill his duty of care. For example, driving a car while drunk and hitting
another car; or failing to put salt down on an icy driveway so that someone slips on it and falls.
If the answer to this question is no, then there is no negligence and you stop here. If the answer
to this question is yes, then the plaintiff breached his duty of care, and you go on to question
3. Did the plaintiff suffer damages or injuries as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty
of care? This question is self explanatory. In my two examples above, consider that the drunk
driver collided with another car causing damage to the car and injury to its driver. Alternatively,
consider that by failing to put ice down on a slippery driveway, the defendant slipped on it and
fell and broke his leg. If the answer to this question is no (no damage or injury was
suffered/caused), then you stop here and there is no negligence. If the answer is yes, then you go
on to question 4.
4. Are the plaintiff’s damages too remote? This deals with the causal connection between the
defendant’s negligence and the plaintiff’s injuries. There are two different tests that are used.
The first test is the foreseeability test. Is it reasonably foreseeable that the defendant's breach
of duty of care would cause damage or injury to the plaintiff. Using the above examples, the
test would be is it reasonably foreseeable that driving a car while drunk could cause an accident
and damage or injury to another driver and his car; or is it reasonably foreseeable that failing to
put salt on an icy driveway would cause someone walking on it to slip and fall and injure
himself. If the answer to this question is "no", then negligence has been proven since the
damages are not too remote, because there is a more or less direct causa