Understanding the Difference Between Negligence and Gross Negligence

You may frequently see terms regarding negligence in legal discussions. “Ordinary negligence” and “gross negligence” are different, but many people don’t understand how.

Ordinary negligence is a failure to exercise the level of caution necessary in a particular situation. This level of caution is what any average person in a similar situation would use. Being convicted of negligence generally means there was a careless mistake or some inattention that resulted in an injury.

Gross negligence is a reckless or deliberate disregard for the reasonable treatment or safety of others. However, both cases involve ignoring fundamental responsibility, whether intentional or not, and both cause harm to people, property, or both.

What Is Ordinary Negligence?

Ordinary negligence happens in situations where someone doesn’t take reasonable precautions. These are precautions that any average person would take under the same circumstances. Failing to take these precautions causes injury to someone else. This action is considered negligent.

Here are a few examples of ordinary negligence:

  • Running a stop sign resulting in a crash
  • Failing to place a sign indicating a wet floor after mopping, resulting in a fall or injury
  • Failing to replace wood-rotted stairs on your porch, causing a guest to fall

You never intended to cause injury in any of these cases, but your inattention to the minor details caused injury to someone else. Even when you don’t mean to cause harm, you are still responsible for the accident and can be held legally liable for the damage.

A civil lawsuit helps injured people recover compensation for their injuries. A lawsuit would help to cover the cost of medical bills, property damage, lost wages, or other costs victims incur because of the accident. Injured parties can also seek compensation for pain and suffering or mental anguish.

Proving negligence is an essential part of seeking damages. There are four elements to proving negligence that you will have to prove in a case where you believe you’ve been hurt by ordinary negligence.

You must first prove that the responsible party had a legal duty to exercise caution in the situation. Under the circumstances, the person at fault should have protected you from harm but didn’t.

You must prove that the responsible party performed actions, or failed to perform actions, that breached their legal duty. You must also prove that the actions or inaction of the responsible party caused your injury directly. This is called causation.

The last thing you have to prove is damages. You must verify that the actions of the responsible party harmed you. If you can prove duty, breach of duty, causation, and damage, then you have a personal injury lawsuit. You can claim compensation for your property, lost wages, medical bills, or other losses.

Have you or a loved one been injured in an accident? Call us for a free case evaluation.

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