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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.

Ordinary Negligence: The Elements

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.

  • 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%.