What’s the Difference Between Negligence and Gross Negligence?

What’s the Difference Between Negligence and Gross Negligence?

January 6, 2021 Off By Glespynorson

People often assume that the terms ‘negligence’ and ‘gross negligence’ mean the same thing but there are actually significant differences between the two. Whether an incident is an act of negligence or gross negligence can have a big impact on any subsequent personal injury claims, so it’s well worth taking the time to understand what both terms mean.

What is Ordinary Negligence?

Ordinary negligence occurs when someone fails to take reasonable precautions to protect you from injury. Although there is no malice or intent involved, their negligence nevertheless causes you harm.

This type of negligence is, sadly, fairly common and can occur in a wide variety of situations. If a trolley is broken at the supermarket and a sharp piece of metal cuts your ankle, for example, you could argue that the store owners have been negligent. Alternatively, if you slip on a wet floor that hasn’t been properly signposted, the person responsible may have been negligent.

If someone acts negligently and you suffer an injury as a result, you may be able to make a compensation claim against them. However, you do need to prove that they had a legal duty to protect you and didn’t, that they breached this duty and that the breach caused your injuries. Additionally, you’ll also need to prove that you suffered a financial loss if you want to obtain damages.

What is Gross Negligence?

An incidence of gross negligence occurs when someone acts with such recklessness or indifference that their conduct is highly likely to cause harm to someone or something else. If someone speeds along a busy road, a doctor performs a procedure on the wrong patient, or a manager forces staff to use broken and dangerous machinery, for example, this could constitute gross negligence.

As you can see, gross negligence is typically used to refer to incidents that are a little more serious than those of ‘ordinary negligence’. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the person responsible set out to hurt you or even wanted to hurt you. Similarly, injuries arising from an incidence of gross negligence do not need to be more serious than those which occur following ordinary negligence.

What Difference Does It Make?

So, why does gross negligence vs ordinary negligence matter? Whether an act is deemed ‘ordinary negligence’ or ‘gross negligence’ becomes important if you plan on making a claim for compensation. When ordinary negligence causes an injury, the person harmed can claim compensation for losses, such as medical bills incurred, lost wages if  they have been unable to work, damage to property, etc.

However, if gross negligence occurs, the person injured can claim additional compensation in the form of punitive damages. This is designed to effectively punish the wrongdoer and to dissuade others from acting in the same way, which means you can receive a much higher amount of compensation.

If you’ve been injured in an incident that wasn’t your fault, accessing legal advice can certainly be worthwhile. As well as determining whether you’re eligible to make a claim, your personal injury lawyer will be able to confirm whether you’ve been injured due to ordinary or gross negligence and tell you how much compensation you could obtain.