What are the Different Types of Negligence?

February 19, 2021

Personal injury claims revolve around determining the negligence of another party. This is true whether or not a claim is going to be resolved through an insurance settlement or by a personal injury jury. However, the term “negligence” can be confusing, particularly because there are so many types of negligence that are discussed in these situations. Here, we want to clear up some confusion you may have about the types of negligence in a personal injury case. 

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence systems are still used in many states throughout the country. This is a fairly restrictive type of negligence system that says a person who contributed to their injuries in any way will not be able to recover compensation for their losses. Even if a person was only 1% responsible for their injury and the other party was 99% responsible, the injury victim will be unable to recover compensation in a contributory negligence system. 

Modified Comparative Negligence

Most states have turned toward some form of comparative negligence concerning personal injury claims. In a modified comparative negligence system, an injury victim can still recover compensation even if they are partially responsible for the incident. However, if an injury victim is 50% or more responsible (51% in some states), they will be unable to recover compensation for their losses. 

The total amount of compensation a victim receives and a modified comparative negligence system will be reduced based on their percentage of fault. 

Pure Comparative Negligence

There are several states across the country that use a pure comparative negligence system. This differs from a modified comparative negligence system in that the 50% threshold does not exist. An injury victim can recover compensation even if they are up to 99% responsible for the incident. Again, the total amount of compensation the victim receives will be reduced based on their percentage of fault. 

Gross Negligence

The term gross negligence is used to refer to the actions of a person who shows a complete disregard for the safety of others. Gross negligence can also include actions that are intentionally designed to cause harm to others. This is different from “ordinary” negligence, in which a person did not mean to cause harm to somebody else. For example, ordinary negligence would include failing to yield the right of way at an intersection and striking a pedestrian. Gross negligence would include purposely driving a vehicle on a crowded pedestrian sidewalk.

Vicarious Negligence 

Vicarious negligence refers to the responsibility that one party will hold for the actions of another individual or animal. Vicarious negligence is often used to hold employers responsible for the actions of their employees. For example, if a delivery driver causes a car crash while they are performing their work duties, it is very likely that their employer will be held vicariously responsible for the incident. Additionally, parents can hold vicarious liability for their children’s actions, and pet owners can be held vicariously responsible for the pet’s behavior. 

Work with an Attorney 

If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of somebody else, you need to work with a skilled personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can use their resources to investigate every aspect of your claim in order to determine liability and help obtain maximum compensation on your behalf. 


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