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What Are The Different Types Of Negligence?

Posted on July 5, 2022

The word negligence has several different meanings, particularly when it comes to personal injury claims. Here, we want to specifically discuss the different types of negligence that you will run into in personal injury law. Not all of these will apply to a single type of case.

The Elements of Negligence

When you hear the term “negligence” in the course of a personal injury case, it typically revolves around “ordinary negligence.” In order for an injury victim to win their case against an alleged at-fault party, they have to prove that the at-fault party’s negligence was responsible for the injuries.

There are four elements of negligence that must be in place in order for a claim to be successful.

  1. Duty. The first step is establishing that there was a duty of care owed to the plaintiff (injury victim) by the defendant (alleged negligent party). This will look different depending on the type of case. For example, property owners owe a duty of care to those who have a right to be on their property. This duty includes eliminating hazards or warning guests of known hazards. Drivers on the roadway owe a duty of care to others around them, and this duty involves following traffic laws.
  2. Breach. After a duty of care has been established, it must be shown that the defendant breached their duty in some way. A driver will likely have breached their duty of care if they operate the vehicle while staring at their phone. Property owners who fail to fix broken stairs even if they know they’re broken have probably breached their duty of care.
  3. Causation. After a breach of duty is established, it needs to be shown that the breach directly caused the injuries to the plaintiff.
  4. Damages. Finally, it should be shown that the plaintiff suffered an economic loss as a result of the incident, which can include medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering losses, property damage expenses, and more.

Other Types of Negligence

There are various other ways you may hear the term negligence arise concerning a personal injury claim.

types of negligence

  • Gross negligence. This type of negligence is a step above ordinary negligence. This refers to a defendant engaging in conduct that they know is reckless and likely to place others in danger. For example, if a person gets into an accident while driving 70 mph in a 60 mph zone, this would likely constitute ordinary negligence. However, if a person drives 100 mph in a 60 mph zone or is racing on the roadway and causes an accident, this is more likely gross negligence.
  • Comparative negligence. A comparative negligence system refers to how liability is apportioned when more than one party is at-fault for an incident. For example, if a person is 20% responsible for causing their own injuries, they would receive 20% less compensation for their claim. In most places, individuals cannot recover compensation if they are 50% or 51% responsible for their injuries. Illinois is a comparative negligence state.
  • Contributory negligence. A few states use a contributory negligence system, which means that injury victims are unable to recover compensation if they share any fault at all for their injuries, even as little as 1%.

Does the Type of Negligence Matter?

We understand that it can be confusing to know whether or not one type of negligence is more beneficial to your claim than another. The reality is that if you sustained an injury caused by the actions of someone else, you should be able to recover compensation, regardless of the type of negligence. However, examining the difference between ordinary negligence and gross negligence will be important, particularly when it comes to certain aspects of the claim.

In some cases, gross negligence could give rise to a person receiving punitive damages. In addition to compensatory damages, which include compensation for things like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages, punitive damages may be available in certain circumstances. Under Illinois law, these types of damages, also referred to as exemplary damages, could be awarded if the defendant’s conduct was intentional, fraudulent, or willful and wanton, and their actions caused the plaintiff’s injury.

As we examine a claim, we will look to determine whether or not the actions of the defendant rise above ordinary negligence so we can request the appropriate amount of compensation.

What Do You Need to Prove Negligence?

Determining negligence is not typically an easy process when it comes to personal injury claims in Illinois and the Chicago area. Proving somebody caused harm to another involves conducting an extensive investigation and recovering as much evidence as possible. Evidence is the key here.

The types of evidence needed to prove negligence will vary depending on the type of claim at hand. For example, the types of evidence necessary to prove a defective product claim will most certainly look different than the types of evidence required for a vehicle accident claim. Some of the most common types of evidence used to prove a personal injury claim include:

  • Any photographs taken at the scene of the incident
  • Video surveillance footage of the incident
  • Statements from any eyewitnesses
  • Mobile device data
  • Training or service records of the at-fault party
  • Accident reports or police reports

Often, the evidence gathered at the scene of the incident is enough to prove negligence, but not always. Sometimes, an attorney may need to work with accident reconstruction experts who can use the limited evidence available to them along with scientific and mathematical computer models to help establish what likely occurred.

As we mentioned above, Illinois has a comparative negligence system in place. This is known as a “modified comparative negligence” system that allows individuals to recover compensation even if they are partially responsible for causing their own injuries. The evidence gathered to prove negligence will help solidify these “fault percentages” so that individuals can recover the compensation they are entitled to for their losses.

Do You Need an Attorney to Help Prove Negligence?

You do not necessarily need an attorney to file a personal injury claim against another party. However, the process of determining negligence can be challenging, particularly for anything more than a relatively minor injury case. The role of an attorney is multifaceted, but ultimately, they need to establish the four elements of negligence for your particular claim.

There is no rule that you need an attorney to file a personal injury claim in Illinois, but having an attorney by your side can offer peace of mind. Your focus after an injury occurs should be on recovering, gaining your health back, and getting back on your feet. When you work with a trusted personal injury lawyer to help establish negligence and handle every aspect of your claim, you will have an advocate looking out for your rights while you work to recover from your injuries.

File Your Claim Promptly

We strongly encourage you to file your personal injury claim against another party as quickly as possible. Insurance carriers typically need a claim report within a few days after the incident occurs, or they could delay or even deny the claim. However, there is an overall personal injury statute of limitations in Illinois of two years from the date an injury occurs. This limitation states that an injury victim must file a claim against an alleged negligent party in civil court within two years from the date the injury occurs, or they will not be able to recover compensation for their losses.