What is the Difference Between Negligence and Gross Negligence?

Almost all personal injury cases involve negligence in some way. The rare exceptions usually involve reckless behavior or product liability cases. So, if you have suffered an injury in Nevada, it’s important that you have a basic understanding of what negligence is. There are different types of negligence and personal injury lawyers work hard to prove each type. If you have an idea of how negligence works in Nevada, you’ll have a better idea of whether or not you have a solid case.

Generally speaking, negligence just means that someone had a duty of care toward you and they breached it. For example, people who drive on the highway have a duty to drive carefully and to observe all traffic laws. Servers in a restaurant have a duty to carry their plates securely so they don’t spill hot foods or beverages on customers.

If this duty of care is breached and you are hurt, you may be entitled to compensation. There are two main types of negligence in Nevada – negligence and gross negligence. Both follow the same basic rules described above, however, one is more serious than the other. They both offer different types of damages.

How Basic Negligence in Nevada Works

As we mentioned above, negligence occurs when someone breaches a duty of care. There are four basic parts of a negligence case:

  • The defendant owes you a duty of care
  • They breach this duty
  • As a result, you are injured
  • The breach actually caused the injury

Here are 2 situations where negligence may apply. However, in one, you’ll notice that the injury was not actually caused by the breach.

Situation 1: A homeowner is gardening in her front yard. She has sharp gardening tools laying all over her pavement. A child walks by and trips on the tools, breaking her leg in the process. The child’s parent sues for negligence.

Situation 2:  A homeowner is gardening in her front yard. A child comes up and pulls her hair. As she reacts to this behavior, she turns around and has a small shovel in her hand. The shovel hits the child in the chin, breaking a tooth. The child’s parent sues the homeowner for the injuries.

In Situation 1, the child has a strong case for negligence. The homeowner owed a duty of care to people walking down the street. She breached that duty by leaving her tools all over the street. She had to expect that people may walk down the street and trip on her tools. The child did trip and was injured as a result. Had the tools not been there, the child never would have gotten hurt,

In Situation 2, the child has a very weak case for negligence. The homeowner still owed a duty of care – but she didn’t breach that duty. The homeowner had no reason to expect a strange child to pull her hair while she was gardening. Yes, the child was injured in the process but it wasn’t the homeowner’s fault.

Can a Personal Injury Attorney in Law Vegas Handle a Gross Negligence Case?

Gross negligence is when someone’s behavior is so reckless that it falls below what anyone would deem reasonable. The plaintiff must still prove a regular case of negligence. He must still prove that a duty of care existed, that the defendant breached that duty, and he was injured as a result. However, if he can prove that the defendant acted in a way where he clearly didn’t care about who would get hurt, it may be gross negligence. The important thing about gross negligence is that it lets the plaintiff collect punitive damages.

In the example above, let’s pretend the homeowner is trimming the bushes in her front yard. She is doing so using a very long motorized hedge trimmer. She is swinging the trimmer around in all directions, paying no attention to who may be walking by. A 12-year old boy walks by and is struck in the arm by the trimmer, causing significant damage to his arm. Let’s also presume that the homeowner is trimming her bushes after consuming a 12-pack of beer and smoking marijuana.

In this example, the homeowner still owed a duty of care to the boy. She breached this duty by recklessly swinging the hedge trimmer around in an area where people were sure to walk by. The child was injured as a result of her behavior. Since she was drunk and high at the time of the accident, we can argue that it was gross negligence. It was not reasonable for her to use an electric hedge trimmer while drunk and high.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Las Vegas, Nevada

If you’ve been hurt as a result of someone’s negligence, you need to contact a personal injury lawyer. Attorneys in Nevada understand the difference between ordinary negligence and gross negligence. They will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact a personal injury lawyer in Nevada today to discuss your case. The initial consultation is free and you pay nothing until you win your case.

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