What is the Difference Between Ordinary Negligence vs. Gross Negligence?

When dealing with personal injury cases, the word “negligence” arises quite often. In general, in order for an injury victim to recover compensation from an at-fault party, they need to prove the other party’s negligence first. However, there is a difference between “ordinary negligence” and “gross negligence.” Here, we want to discuss the difference between these two terms and how distinguishing between the two could affect a personal injury case.

Understanding ordinary negligence

Ordinary negligence is what many people think of when they hear the word “negligence.” This type of negligence occurs when a person fails to take the reasonable precautions that a prudent person would take in a similar situation, and their actions cause harm to somebody else.

Some common examples of negligence that many people are familiar with include:

  • A driver failing to stop at a stoplight and causing a crash.
  • A store owner or operator that fails to put up a “wet floor” sign after mopping, and subsequently causing a spill.
  • A dog owner who accidentally leaves their door open, leading to their dog running outside and biting somebody on the roadway.

In each of these cases, the negligent party did not mean to cause harm to others, but their careless actions nonetheless led to an injury. However, even if a person does not intend to cause harm, a negligent individual can still be held legally responsible for the damages they cause.

Understanding gross negligence

Gross negligence is defined quite differently from ordinary negligence. This type of negligence involves the extreme indifference to or reckless disregard for the safety of other people. This is more than just regular negligence or a failure to act in a given situation. Gross negligence refers to willful behavior that disregards the health and safety of others. A person guilty of gross negligence knows that their conduct is likely to create foreseeable harm.

Some common examples of gross negligence include the following:

  • A driver speeding through a parking lot filled with pedestrians gathered for a festival.
  • A doctor prescribing a medication in which the patient’s medical records show they clearly are allergic to.
  • Nursing home staff members failing to provide water or food to a resident for days at a time.

Because of the deliberate actions or extreme carelessness of these situations, the negligent party will likely be held liable in the event a civil lawsuit is filed by a person injured. Additionally, instances of gross negligence often result in criminal charges being filed against the negligent party as well.

How will this matter in a personal injury case?

Injured individuals often have the ability to file civil personal injury lawsuits against the alleged negligent parties, regardless of whether or not they were harmed due to ordinary negligence or gross negligence. However, the amount of damages awarded to a person injured as a result of gross negligence may be increased, and the injury victim may even receive punitive damages intended to punish the wrongdoer.

Pursuing a claim in these cases is often difficult, and injury victims should seek assistance from a skilled Miami personal injury lawyer who can fully evaluate their case and get them on the best path moving forward. Victims may be entitled to various types of compensation, including coverage of medical bills, lost wages, household out-of-pocket expenses, pain and suffering damages, and more.