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Difference Between Negligence and Gross Negligence

Car Accident

The legal terms negligence and gross negligence are commonly used within all aspects of personal injury law and all legal matters, but most people don’t fully understand the fundamental differences between these two terms.

Negligence refers to any type of individual failure to adhere to an officially deciphered level of care that an ordinary person would stick to within any case’s circumstances. Negligence can relate to all sorts of behavior, but it typically involves someone’s mistake or lack of attention that ultimately causes harm or injury to another person.

Gross negligence is a much more extreme form of negligence that consists of the reckless and deliberate disregard for the general safety and treatment of people, property or simultaneously both. Both negligence and gross negligence involve an ignoration of personal responsibility, which then directly causes injury or harm to another person and/or their property.

Negligence and gross negligence relate to all of our practice areas, and our team of experienced Silver Spring personal injury attorneys has proven themselves over the years to bring the very best results possible for each of our clients.

In this page we’re going to go over the main differences between negligence and gross negligence, and if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to contact us so we can help you get the answers you need with a free consultation.

What is Ordinary Negligence?

As we defined earlier, negligence is any kind of failure to take a certain precaution that any normal individual would have taken, which then lead to the harm of someone else. Some examples of ordinary negligence include the following:

  • Someone driving through a stop sign and causing a car accident.
  • A store owner not putting up a wet floor sign after cleaning or mopping, which leads to someone slipping and injuring themselves.
  • Any property owner not replacing something like rotten steps, which then leads to a porch collapsing and someone getting hurt.

It’s clear that the party responsible for the injuries in these examples didn’t actually mean to cause the other person any harm, but their general carelessness was the direct cause of the accident’s occurrence. These responsible parties are still liable for any damages caused by the incident, even though they didn’t intend to cause the victim any harm.

Through personal injury lawsuits, injured parties can receive their rightful compensation for all sorts of economic and non-economic damages. This can include things like medical bills, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and all other costs that may have been associated with the accident.

How is Negligence Proven?

The four main elements involved with proving negligence in a personal injury case includes the following:

  • Duty — The plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed them some level of legal duty in terms of taking a reasonable amount of precaution to protect other people from any harm under the case’s circumstances.
  • Breach — The legal duty within the first element must have been legitimately breached through the defendant’s actions or inactions.
  • Causation — The breaching action by the defendant must directly cause the plaintiff’s injury.
  • Damages — The plaintiff must be able to prove how they were harmed by the defendant’s negligent actions, which includes compiling bills and evaluating non-economic harms.

These four elements are always necessary when it comes to validating a personal injury lawsuit, and they all coincide with each other to fully encapsulate what negligent behavior entails.

What is Gross Negligence?

Gross negligence is the extreme disregard or indifference towards other people’s safety, and it always involves much more than simple carelessness or any type of failure to act. Gross negligence is always a type of willful behavior that can likely cause any type of foreseeable harm to others, and there are times in which gross negligence is closely connected to recklessness.

Some gross negligence examples include the following:

  • A driver recklessly speeding or maneuvering in a particular area that is known for heavy pedestrian traffic.
  • A doctor prescribing any kind of medication when a patient’s records clearly indicate that it’s something the patient is allergic to.
  • Nursing home employees not providing food or water to a resident for a couple days or more.

Elements of Gross Negligence

If an action or wrongdoing is considered grossly negligent, then it also must first be defined as negligent. This means that gross negligence consists of the four main elements of negligence as described above, as well as the following present elements:

  • The wrongdoer acting negligently was also aware of the many potential consequences of their actions.
  • The wrongdoer intentionally acted negligently so they could cause harm to the plaintiff.

Punishment for Gross Negligence

Gross negligence is still a part of civil lawsuits, which means the deliberately careless, extreme actions ended up causing some kind of injury or property damage to a plaintiff. There are many cases in which gross negligence leads to higher settlements of special and general damages, as well as punitive damages that are intended to deter the defendant from acting negligently in the future.

The special, general and punitive damages are paid to the plaintiff just like in ordinary negligent cases, so the essential difference between negligence and gross negligence is the in the severity of the carelessness, the consequences of that carelessness, and the magnitude of damages imposed by the wrongdoer’s behavior.

Pursuing a Negligence Claim with DuBoff & Associates

Our Silver Spring, Bowie, College Park, Landover and Upper Marlboro Injury and Accident Attorneys have decades of experience when it comes to helping injured individuals across Maryland, Virginia and the D.C. Metro Area, so you can be rest assured that your case is in experienced hands.

Our attorneys will always investigate your accident and review all the facts in order to determine exactly what happened and whether or not negligence or gross negligence was involved. We’ll go above and beyond in terms of gathering the necessary evidence to build a comprehensive case on your behalf, and we’ll do all the talking for you when it comes to the defendant’s insurance company too.

Our experience in terms of decades of handling similar cases gives us a unique perspective in terms of helping our clients better understand what their case is worth, and our straightforward, results-driven representation has helped us earn the trust of countless past clients.

Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation

DuBoff & Associates has built up a solid reputation as one of the most successful personal injury firms throughout the D.C., Virginia and Maryland areas, and we will always remain vigilant in terms of our commitment to our local communities.

So if you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, or gross negligence, feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation so we can go over the details of your case and take the proper first steps towards your rightful compensation.