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.

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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.

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.

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