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.

(303) 795-5900

What Is Gross Negligence?

Gross negligence involves reckless disregard or extreme indifference for another’s safety. It’s not a failure to act or simple carelessness. It is purposeful behavior that causes significant issues with the continued safety and health of other people. This type of conduct is highly likely to cause harm.

Here are some examples of gross negligence:

  • Speeding your car through an area with a lot of pedestrian traffic
  • Doctors prescribing medications that a patient’s medical records list as a drug allergy
  • Staff at a nursing home failing to provide the food and water a resident needs for multiple days

These deliberate actions cause injury to others and could damage property. Extreme carelessness can increase the amount of money awarded to an injured party. A lawsuit can cover the cost of damages but is also intended to cover punitive damages as punishment for wrongdoing.

Most accidents are due to ordinary negligence, but depending on the circumstances, an accident caused by drunk driving can sometimes be considered gross negligence.

You need to speak with a personal injury lawyer immediately if you have been hurt and you believe the accident was due to the negligence of someone else. Any personal injury attorney can review the details surrounding your case and determine whether their actions were the result of negligence or gross negligence.

You can pursue negligence claims on your own, but it’s much harder. Hiring an experienced lawyer to handle your case makes it easy on you and ensures that you receive all of the damages you are entitled to.

A car accident attorney can help you with cases where you were injured due to the negligence of a driver. Their experience is invaluable to your case and ensures that you can rest easy knowing they have it handled.

A personal injury lawyer will investigate the accident to determine what happened and where the fault lies. This investigation could involve hiring experts to reconstruct the accident and recreate the events that led to your injury.

Gathering evidence in this way is a technique that can help build a persuasive case against the other party. A lawyer will also handle communicating with the insurance company, so you don’t have to be caught up in the red tape.

If you don’t file a claim within the appropriate time frame, you may not be able to present in court. When choosing a personal injury lawyer, make sure you find one with a good reputation and with plenty of experience.

You can enlist the help of a personal injury lawyer to determine what your case is worth because they have years of experience in handling cases just like yours. You have limited time to file a personal injury lawsuit, so you need to act quickly.

Make sure that if you’ve been a victim of ordinary negligence or gross negligence, you seek counsel and ensure that you hire the representation you need. Don’t let your injuries go unpunished or you may end up with financial hardships you could have avoided.

A personal injury claim could ensure that you get the damages you deserve to cover medical expenses, missed work, damage to personal property, and any other losses you may experience as a result of someone else’s negligence.

Contact Us

Call a trusted attorney at Bell & Pollock, P.C. at (303) 795-5900 to get on the road to recovery now. You can also email our firm via the contact firm on this page.

As proud champions of the people, our lawyers are ready to answer your questions, explain the law and your rights, and help you take whatever steps necessary to recover the compensation you’re entitled to. With us in your corner, you can be confident that you have the legal support and representation necessary to successfully resolve your claim.

Don’t delay your recovery for a second longer – and don’t be misguided into thinking that you have to go through the process alone. Our attorneys are here, ready to help – and you won’t have to pay us anything until (or unless) there is a recovery in your case.

Free Legal E-Books

Click on any one of the e-books to access your free copy!

Case Results


CASE: Client was injured by a drunk driver. As a result of the motor vehicle accident, client was rendered a quadriplegic and needed a life care plan.
Outcome: $9,600,000

CASE: Against Insurance company for failure to pay for property damage after a gas and fire explosion.
Outcome: $1,600,000

CASE: Medical malpractice for failure to diagnose a descending aorta aneurism, resulting in death.
Outcome: $1,300,000

CASE: Neck and back injuries from car accident. Client had ongoing symptoms and needed injections for attempted remediation of pain.
Settled for $485,000

CASE: Client was injured in a 2 vehicle collision. She suffered a traumatic brain injury, concussion and multiple injuries to the neck.
Outcome: $6,000,000

CASE: Client was in her car and was T-Boned by a commercial vehicle. Her cerebral spinal fluid leaked and she suffered a concussion and traumatic brain injury with neck and lumbar (low back) injuries. Her neck injury caused radiating pain, numbness and tingling in her arms.
Outcome: $3,400,000

CASE: Client was driving on a rural road when another car crossed the center line and caused a head-on collision in the snow and ice. Client did physical work for a living. Both knees were injured, along with a neck injury.
Outcome: $2,300,000

CASE: Client was driving on South Parker road when another vehicle rapidly changed lanes and rear-ended the client. That vehicle was cited for careless driving. The collision caused a concussion with traumatic brain Injury. Client missed time from work and had a positive correlation between brain scan and neuropsychological test results.
Outcome: $950,000

CASE: Client was rear ended by a dump truck, was then knocked forward and hit another vehicle. Client had a concussion with traumatic brain injury. Client underwent a brain scan which showed hypoperfusion, correlated with her concussion symptoms. Client suffered neck injuries and injuries to her low back.
Outcome: $650,000

CASE: Client was rear-ended. The mechanism of injury from the forces in the collision caused her neck injury and at the same time, damaged her organs inside her throat. Client had swallowing and choking issues.
Outcome: $1,250,000

CASE: Client was in a motor vehicle accident. Both injections in the neck rendered some temporary relief. The Injections were transforaminal epidural steroid injections. Surgery was recommended on the lumbar (low back). The low back was injured by the forces in the collisions.
Outcome: $933,000

CASE: The client was driving in her car and was rear-ended thereby causing injuries to her lower back and neck. Client also suffered a concussion. Client had to undergo facet injections multiple times, through multiple procedures. Client also had cognitive issues which required cognitive training and therapy.
Outcome: $400,000

CASE: Client was entering a highway from an on ramp and was rear-ended by a commercial van. Client tested positive for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and failed conservative treatment. Client underwent thoracic outlet syndrome surgey, which involved removal of the first rib to attempt to relieve pressure in the thoracic outlet. Client also suffered a back injury.
Outcome: $750,000

CASE: Client was injured by a drunk driver, who crossed the center line of the road. Client underwent multiple surgeries and could not work. Client was late 40s and needed a modified life care plan.
Outcome: $750,000

CASE: Client was rear ended by a tow truck driver who was a diabetic. The diabetic at fault party was a non-compliant diabetic and claimed he had a syncope episode, and was “blacked out”. Client had a preexisting back condition known and the forces from the collision aggravated, or made worse, the preexisting back condition in addition to, causing neck injuries.
Outcome: $350,000

CASE: Client was a passenger in a car where the driver fell asleep on a country road in the early morning hours. The car rolled multiple times. Client had eye injuries, facial injuries and neck and knee injuries.
Outcome: $850,000

CASE: Client was on the job, driving her own car, when she was rear-ended. She suffered a concussion with traumatic brain injury and pursued Workers Compensation Claim.
Outcome: $150,000

CASE: Client slipped and fell on snow and ice in Central City. He suffered back injuries, that did not require injections.
Outcome: $125,000

CASE: Client slipped and fell on snow and ice on a sidewalk in front of a business. She had to have knee surgery and multiple injections in her back.
Outcome: $175,000

CASE: Client was visiting a friend who was renting a house. Client tripped on untreated, dangerous section of deck and injured his back.
Outcome: $150,000

CASE:Client was rear ended and needed fusion spinal surgery. Insurance proceeds were limited.
Outcome: $125,000

CASE:Client was rear-ended and had to have rotator cuff surgery. Insurance proceeds were limited.
Settled for $65,000

CASE:Client was at Denver International Aiport traveling through Denver, slipped and fell and broke her ankle.
Settled for $118,750

CASE:Client was exposed to mold in a multi-family dwelling that was caused by leaking water.
Settled for $125,000

CASE:Motorcycle accident, reconstructive surgery, post-traumatic stress disorder, neurological injuries
Settled for $1,275,000



I could not have made a better decision than to call Bell & Pollock with my case. Dana Miller and her team were the best.
Brian B.
Jason H.
I appreciate brad and his team the bell and Pollock attorneys are by far the best ones i have ever worked with.
Aliviya D.
Brad Pollock is educated, experienced, and is the world’s greatest attorney. Marlena Elsloo helps him focus in on the most important issues.
Kathy T.
He is very professional and we would recommend Mr. Bell to anyone who is looking for an attorney.
Dianna C.
He was kind, compassionate and knowledgeable, but also tenacious when working with the insurance companies.
Michelle K.
I was blessed to be put in contact with Dana, who not only provided me free feedback and counsel when we spoke on the phone, but also took the time to call me back on multiple occasions to check on me.Dana Miller, you are a sweet, caring and amazing person and I appreciate all your help.
Grady C.