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N.K.Assumi (Advocate)     17 June 2010

Difference between a Mistake and Negligence

What are the main distiction between a mistake and negligence: is accident the same as mistake or negligence?


 6 Replies

Daksh (Student)     17 June 2010

Dear Mr.N.K.Assumi,

To my mind it is the mens rea and knowledge (about probable consequences of an act) which differnciates mistake and negligence.

Best Regards


Suchitra. S (Advocate)     17 June 2010

Mistake is the result of being negligent.

And negligence means failure to use reasonable care.

And accident may be caused both due to mistake and negligence. Whether it is a mistake or negligence must be decided by the facts of the case. Fr ex, if a person drives in  a one way even after knowing that it is a one way and causes accident, then it is mistake. And if a person causes accident by not being able to judge the speed of opposite vehicle, it is negligence. 

N.K.Assumi (Advocate)     18 June 2010

Thank you Daksh and Suchitra. So it is acse of wrong judgment in both right?

Suchitra. S (Advocate)     18 June 2010

No Sir, in case of mistake, it is wrong judgment. But in case of negligence, it is lack of care. It does not amount to wrong judgment. It is basically failure to judge before acting.


mistake means unconscious ignorance or some intentional act or omission arising from ignorance and negligence means lack in want of attention  to what ought to be done or looked after.

Devesh A. Bhatia (Advocate)     04 July 2010

The difference can be understood by definition of negligence. Negligence happens

1. When there is a duty to take care

2. There is a breach of such duty

3. Injury has been caused due to breach of such duty. 

For Eg. A person was having trouble with his car brakes for some time. He still drove his car and got into an accident. This is negligence as there was a duty to take reasonable care by repairing the breaks. 

In case of mistake the question of overlooking the phenomenon of reasonable care does not arise.

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