Negligence and the Price You Have to Pay

By: Atty. Gabriel Cosh

Often in life we experience a situation where in spite of mustering all the care possible in a given situation still an injury is caused. This maybe due to circumstances which we did not perceive would occur, or it may be brought about by the negligence of another party, which could not have been avoided in such a situation.

How is negligence perceived and how is it different from a crime? Negligence is actually an act of another which caused an injury to himself or to another person because of the lack of proper care necessary under the prevailing circumstances of place and time. Usually it is viewed as not deliberate, not premeditated, hence there is really no intent to produce such grave an injury. Yet because of the lack of care an injury and damage was actually produced.

How then can it be distinguished from a crime? A crime on the other hand is an act or omission of another that would actually run counter to a right afforded to an individual, and is punishable by law. A crime is in fact a deliberate attempt of the person doing it to cause harm or injury to another, or to deprive another of a right which he is properly eligible to have. Since a crime necessitates a deliberate intent to cause an injury it is usually penalized with imprisonment or the taking of a person’s liberty, at the most even his life. It is a perverted act defying the norms of the society and the rule of conduct set forth by our laws.

A negligence causing an injury, and a crime causing the same is distinguished in the following manners. First, the former has been brought about because of the lack of skill or foresight of the person responsible for it, or the failure to exercise the care necessary under the prevailing situation; the latter on the other hand is caused because of the accuser’s deliberate intent to do the punishable act. Another is the negligence of an individual is not punishable by imprisonment. Usually a restitution is made by the payment of the damages caused, whether actual and/or includes pain and suffering to the victim, a crime. On the other hand, is punishable by taking away the liberty of an individual, or at the extremes even the life of the person who caused the same.

Finally, the quantum of evidence required to prove the negligence of a party is lesser as opposed of one accused of a crime. Mere preponderance of evidence would render a negligent individual liable to pay damages, on the other hand, a person may only be convicted for the commission of a crime if evidence presented would prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed the crime, if the same cannot be had then he must as a rule be acquitted.


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