Prosser, pp. 130-131: Elements of Cause of Action


1.     Duty of care

a.      A duty of care is an obligation recognized by the law.

b.     Such a duty requires the actor to conform to a certain standard of conduct.

c.     The purpose of such conduct is to protect others against unreasonable risks.

2.     Breach of duty – A failure to conform to the required standard

3.     Causation

a.      Causation-in-fact

b.     “Proximate” causation

4.     Actual damage

a.      Negligence grew out of “action on the case”, which required proof of actual damages.

b.     Recovery of nominal damages is not allowed.

c.     It’s uncertain just what constitutes damage.


These elements are not discrete, but rather, they are all related.  Another definition of negligence is “conduct that falls below the standard of care established by law for the protection of others against the unreasonable risk of harm”.


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