53 La. L. Rev. 1509 (1992-1993)
A Primer on the Patterns of Negligence

handle is hein.journals/louilr53 and id is 1527 raw text is: A Primer on the Patterns of Negligence

Thomas C. Galligan, Jr. *
This piece' is purely and simply pedagogical. It is designed to help
law students (and other students of law); it is designed to help them
see the similarities between the various methods courts use to analyze
negligence. If lawyers, judges, or others get some benefit out of my
discussion I am pleased, but I dedicate this piece to those of you who
are trying to discern some meaningful pattern in the cases you are
studying in your first Torts course.
Negligence is a simple word; it is a simple word to describe a simple
concept-the failure to exercise reasonable care. However, it is between
the articulation of the concept and the resolution of concrete cases that
complexities arise. These problems are made more troublesome, and
more difficult, by the various ways in which courts analyze negligence.
Where no statute is involved some courts employ what I will call a
proximate cause analysis. Others use the duty-risk method. Still others
employ an algebraic formula known as Learned Hand's negligence for-
mula. Where there is a statute that proscribes the defendant's conduct,
courts will often use that statute to establish the appropriate standard
of care, and by doing so will employ what may appear to be yet another
analytical approach to negligence.
The first-year law student, with all these different decisional models,
may feel confused. She may wonder when to use what approach. She
may be confused by the facially different elements each pattern
Herein, I hope to show you that each of the approaches basically
deals with the same issues. The same questions are being addressed by
each approach even though one approach may articulate an element
differently than another. One important difference between the ap-
proaches is who gets to decide what under each. I will endeavor in the
Copyright 1993, by LouisINA LAW REvIEW.
Associate Professor of Law, Louisiana State University.
1. This article is a slight reworking of the first section of a longer work, Thomas
C. Galligan, Jr., Hill v. Lundin & Associates, Inc. Revisited: Duty Risked to Death
(1993), which has recently been published by the L.S.U. Paul M. Hebert Law Center. I
thank the Law Center Publications Institute and Chancellor Winston Day for allowing
me to publish this portion of that work here. I am also indebted to my research assistant
Angela Whitaker for all her excellent work.

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