Ordinary and Gross Negligence: Understanding the Difference

Negligence is the foundation of every Nevada personal injury claim. There are two standards of negligence — ordinary and gross. Negligence is the breach of the duty to exercise reasonable care. When someone is negligent and their acts — or failure to act — cause another harm, the injured party can seek monetary compensation from the at-fault party. The plaintiff’s award can change significantly depending on whether the defendant is found to be guilty of ordinary or gross negligence. 

Ordinary Negligence Explained

The failure to meet the definition of ordinary care is referred to as “ordinary negligence.” There are numerous circumstances that impose a duty on one or more parties to exercise reasonable care. Examples include drivers having a duty to obey traffic laws and trying to prevent car crashes. When a driver fails to exercise care — such as by texting while driving — he or she has committed negligence. When a car accident is caused by negligence, an injured victim may seek monetary compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. In order for an injured victim to establish ordinary negligence, he or she must prove the following four elements:

  • The at-fault party owed a legal duty of care;
  • The at-fault party breached this duty;
  • The breach of this duty caused the accident;
  • The accident resulted in damages.

If an ordinary reasonable and prudent person would have taken more care to prevent the injury that resulted in harm for the injured party, the defendant may be found guilty of negligence. Ordinary negligence generally refers to a party’s careless mistake that causes harm to another. 

Gross Negligence Explained

While gross negligence is also a breach of the duty of care, it is different from ordinary negligence. Gross negligence refers to a severe breach of duty that rises to recklessness, maliciousness, wanton endangerment of others, intent to harm, or fraud. This level of negligence is extreme — appearing deliberate or committed with a blatant disregard for the reasonable safety of others. An at-fault party guilty of gross negligence may have known, or should have known, that their actions or inactions would most likely harm others or cause property damage but did not care. An example of gross negligence is a property owner noticing a deteriorated staircase and refusing to make repairs before allowing visitors on the property, despite knowing the staircase could collapse and result in serious injuries. In order for an injured victim to prove gross negligence, an injured party must prove:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care;
  • The at-fault party breached this duty;
  • The at-fault party’s actions displayed extreme carelessness or were deliberate;
  • The breach of this duty caused the accident; and
  • The accident resulted in damages.

Gross negligence impacts a Nevada personal injury claim as the courts treat each type of negligence differently. A defendant who is found guilty of gross negligence may have to pay additional monetary compensation beyond making up for losses under an ordinary negligence claim. In Nevada, a punitive damages award may be available in cases that involve gross negligence. 

Contact Our Attorneys

If you or someone you care about has been hurt in an accident, contact the skilled attorneys at H&P Law. We will fight to secure the compensation you deserve.

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