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Understanding the Types of Negligence

Most civil cases are filed upon the belief there is legal negligence that took place with a lack of reasonable care that resulted in someone’s injury. In other words, the plaintiff must prove the actions or inactions of the defendant contributed to or caused the injuries the plaintiff suffered. This sounds easy enough, but that is not the case in the majority of filed claims; so, the court system of the United States developed a structure that used four main types of negligence that can be proven to win a civil case with the help of a personal injury lawyer. Now the plaintiff only needs to prove his or her civil action under the limits of one of the categories of negligence listed below.

Comparative Negligence

One of the most common types of negligence used by insurance companies, the comparative category of negligence is based upon the actions and inactions of both parties. Looking at the foundation of the case, a percentage of liability is assigned to each person involved, and this number is then used to define the fault or percentage of responsibility the plaintiff or defendant had in the accident. When one of the parties has a greater liability number, his or her negligence is found to be greater, and the other party is awarded compensatory damages of the other party’s percentage of responsibility.

Gross Negligence

If the actions of the defendant were so reckless, irresponsible, or careless that the actions demonstrated an absence of concern for the plaintiff’s safety, it is referred to as gross negligence. The law frowns on this type of negligence and often awards additional damages to what the plaintiff was seeking – or punitive damages. When gross negligence is found, it is because the actions of the defendant were so socially wrong that would not be done by a reasonable person.

Contributory Negligence

Though it may be difficult to define or understand, the contributory negligence is much like the comparative negligence category, but contributory negligence takes the assignment of percentages of responsibility one step further. If the plaintiff contributed to the accident, there is no award. That means that if the defendant is 95 percent responsible, the plaintiff is still 5 percent responsible, and therefore, the plaintiff would be not recovery or pain and suffering compensation. Within the United States, there are very few states that still use the ‘all-or-nothing’ negligence law.

Vicarious Liability

If a company or employer is responsible for the actions of another person, vicarious liability can sometimes apply to the negligent actions of the employee. For example, an employee that is driving a company vehicle and runs into the back for another vehicle, injuring the occupants inside, is responsible for the accident. However, because the employee was acting while under the scope of his employment, the employer would then become responsible for the reckless actions of his or her employee. Some plaintiffs sue both the company and the employee.

If you have been injured in an accident, and feel you have a right to compensation for your pain and suffering and medical bills, seek help from a qualified personal injury attorney in your area. You shouldn’t have to suffer because of the negligent actions of another individual.


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