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Home » Articles » The Different Types of Negligence Applicable to Personal Injury Claims

The Different Types of Negligence Applicable to Personal Injury Claims


Personal injury claims are as diverse as the accidents and incidents that lead to them. Understanding the various types of negligence applicable to these cases is crucial for both plaintiffs and defendants alike.

Negligence in a personal injury case is a legal concept that forms the cornerstone of many civil lawsuits. It is the idea that individuals or entities must practice reasonable care to avoid causing harm to others. When they fail, they can be held liable for the resulting injuries or damages.

In this exploration, we will discuss the different types of negligence that may come into play in personal injury claims. Read on.

Ordinary Negligence

Ordinary or general negligence is the most common type of negligence involved in personal injury cases. It occurs when someone fails to apply or practice the degree of care that a reasonable person would under similar circumstances. This standard is often used as a benchmark for determining liability.

For instance, if a driver runs a red light and crashes into another vehicle, causing injuries, they may be found liable for ordinary negligence. Statistics from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that in 2020, 32,824 deadly motor vehicle accidents took place in the United States, many of which were attributed to ordinary negligence.

Gross Negligence

Gross negligence represents a higher degree of negligence than ordinary negligence. It involves reckless or willful disregard for the safety of others. Unlike ordinary negligence, gross negligence can lead to punitive damages to hold the defendant responsible for their conduct.

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For example, if a surgeon operates on a patient while intoxicated, knowingly putting their life at risk, the surgeon may be liable for gross negligence. According to one study published in JAMA Surgery, preventable medical errors, including cases of gross negligence, are a leading cause of death in the United States, claiming an estimated 250,000 lives annually.

Comparative Negligence

In personal injury cases, it is possible for both the plaintiff and the defendant to share some degree of fault. Comparative negligence is a principle within the law that allows for a fair allocation of liability when multiple parties are involved in the occurrence of an accident.

For instance, if a pedestrian crosses the street against a red light and is struck by a speeding car, a court may find that the pedestrian and the driver alike were partially at fault. In many jurisdictions, comparative negligence rules are used to determine the extent of each party’s liability and the corresponding reduction in compensation.

Professional Negligence (Malpractice)

Professional negligence, often called malpractice, applies to cases where a professional, such as a doctor, lawyer, or accountant, fails to meet the standard of care expected in their profession. This negligence can result in significant harm and financial loss for clients.

For instance, medical malpractice claims can arise when a physician fails to diagnose and discover a severe condition promptly or makes a surgical error. The National Practitioner Data Bank reported 12,712 medical malpractice payment reports in the United States in 2019, highlighting the prevalence of such cases.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence is another type of negligence that is being followed by only five states in the US. This is a very strict rule that restricts the plaintiff from recovering losses even if they are 1% responsible for the accident.

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So if you were hit by a drunk driver and sustained whiplash but were not wearing a seatbelt, you may not claim compensation.


Having knowledge about the various types of negligence applicable to personal injury claims is crucial for anyone involved in these legal matters. Seek the assistance of a lawyer if you or a loved one end up in such situations.

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