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Negligence Elements and Defenses

The traditional division of negligence into duty, breach of duty, causation (cause in fact and proximate cause), and damages provides the structure of this lesson. The student will find navigation to an individual section or even to an individual area (such as res ipsa loquitur within breach of duty) easy. The most likely use of the lesson is as a review and test of understanding following classroom discussion, but the questions can also be used to preview that discussion.

Because the lesson is lengthy, the student is invited to divide it into more than one session. The lesson is designed to reinforce the student's understanding of the basic law of negligence, and then to lead far beyond the elements of the tort into factual applications, policy considerations, and argument evaluation.

Numerous hypertext links and citations to authorities invite the student to consideration of differing views and to further research into the area. The lesson often engages the student in a "dialogue" on the merit of a response.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the lesson, the student will be able to:

  1. Explain the traditional elements of negligence.
  2. Analyze the general elements of duty and breach of duty, including res ipsa loquitur.
  3. Describe the issues involved in causation and damages.
  4. Discuss negligence defenses, including contributory negligence, assumption of risk, immunities and the statutes of limitations.


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