Written by attorney Justin Drew McMinn

Negligence vs. Gross Negligence

Negligence is a part of civil law that can most easily be described as carelessness. In this guide you will learn how to differentiate between "gross negligence" and "negligence." What is the role of negligence in tort law?

It can occur when a person or organization does not take a reasonable action to ensure the safety of another. In some cases the defendant may have done something that was negligent, in other instances they may have NOT done something that caused a dangerous situation. Whether it was an action or lack of safety precautions, the injured person's legal counsel must prove several elements of legal duty before they are considered to have acted negligently.

First, the plaintiff's lawyer must demonstrate that the defendant had a legal duty to owed to the plaintiff. Second, that the defendant did not act in accordance of the legal duty. Next, it's up to the plaintiff (or personal injury lawyer) to demonstrate how severe the plaintiff was injured. Finally, it must be proven that the defendant's breach of duty actually caused the plaintiff's suffering.

A victim of negligence can sue for damages.

So this is negligence - now the distinction between negligence and gross negligence comes quickly. Gross negligence occurs when negligence is extremely reckless, or so far behind the reasonable standard of care it should be legally be recognized differently. One example could be a doctor amputating the wrong limb on a patient, or a business selling a product they know is harmful.

A victim of gross negligence can sue for punitive damages. This is meant to punish the defendant so that they do not commit the grossly negligent act again.

Additional resources provided by the author is one of the best places to find legal resources for plaintiffs in Texas. View the top posts about negligence here: If you're still left with questions, Cornell Law School provides free resources for those who are assessing a possible breach of duty:

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