John Oberdiek, ‘The Wrong in Negligence’

The elements of the tort of negligence are well known: injury, duty, breach, and actual and proximate cause. It is uncontroversial that the plaintiff must establish each of these elements to make out the prima facie case of negligence. Accordingly, there is no tort unless all of these elements are established. As torts are understood to be wrongs, it seems to follow that there is a wrong if and only if all of the elements of the tort of negligence are satisfied. It seems to follow, then, that the wrong of negligence is constituted by the completed tort of negligence. This is the conclusion that I wish to challenge here. I shall contend that the wrong of negligence does not require the kind of legally cognisable injury that the tort of negligence plainly requires. Causing a material harm to another is not a prerequisite for wronging them. Instead, one wrongs another when one breaches the duty of care that one owes to them.

John Oberdiek, The Wrong in Negligence, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Published: 1 June 2021.

First posted 2021-06-01 15:53:17

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