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Legal Basics: What Are the Different Types of Negligence?


Proving negligence is one of the critical factors when pursuing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. When awarding judgment in favor of the injured party, there must be a decision about partial or complete negligence to determine compensation. 

It seems simple enough, but proving negligence can be difficult, depending on the circumstances of a case. Your lawyer must understand the different types of negligence and how to prove that the accused party acted negligently, resulting in personal injury or death of the plaintiff.

What are the types of negligence? Keeping reading to learn more about them and how they can affect the outcomes of your lawsuit.

What is Negligence?

Without adding any legal terminology to our understanding of the word, “negligence” happens when someone fails to take proper care in doing something. In many cases, negligent acts don’t result in any type of injury at all. People frequently neglect to do things properly without any adverse consequences to themselves or others.

As it applies to personal injury and wrongful death cases, negligence means someone (or something, like an employer) failed to provide accurate protections or change behavior that resulted in the injury or death of someone else. In general negligence cases, the fault is determined to be unintentional. 

For example:

When a business unintentionally fails to provide property safety gear or training, and a worker gets hurt on the job, the worker has a case for the employer’s negligence. 

When a driver unintentionally fails to yield the right of way in traffic, their negligence in a car accident could result in the injury or other drivers or pedestrians.

When trying to prove negligence to win a lawsuit, it’s rarely cut-and-dry. When presenting the facts of the case, multiple factors can contribute to someone’s negligence. If one person or entity isn’t solely responsible for the negligence that leads to your injury, you’ll need to consider other types of negligence to win compensation. 

Comparative Negligence

If you are partly responsible for your injury, the court can rule that the other party isn’t entirely financially responsible for your claim amount. In these cases, a judge will determine your percentage of negligence toward your own injury. If you receive 30% of the comparative negligence in your case, you’ll likely receive only 70% of the total amount of your claim. 

Comparative negligence can happen in a workplace injury or a traffic accident:

If you’re injured at work because of unsafe conditions, but also you ignored a safety rule, a judge might rule that your actions partially contributed to your injury. 

If a driver ignores a left turn yield signal and hits your car, but you were also speeding through the intersection to beat the red light, comparative negligence could apply here.

Even if you’re partially at fault, it could be worth pursuing the other party to recover some of the costs associated with your injury.

Contributory Negligence

Depending on your case and the courts, contributory negligence could override comparative negligence.

The same concept applies: you are partially responsible for your injuries as a result of your own negligent actions. However, if a court follows contributory negligence law, if they rule that you are even 1% at fault, you lose the full claim amount. 

However, more courts seem to follow comparative negligence precedence in awarding partial compensation in a case where the plaintiff and the other party share negligence. 

Modified Comparative Negligence

This ruling is a combination of contributory and comparative negligence. If the court determines modified negligence is the best result, you can still claim some of the reward amount. As long as the judge rules you are no more than 50% negligent in the event that caused your injuries, you might walk away with some compensation toward your injury-related expenses. 

As with comparative negligence, you’ll receive a modified sum based on your percentage of responsibility for our injuries. 

Gross Negligence

Where general negligence is unintentional, gross negligence indicates a complete lack of care for anyone else’s safety. When a case receives a ruling of gross negligence, the court determines that the defendant either intentionally caused harm or didn’t care enough to avoid causing an injury or wrongful death. 

As the plaintiff, you should receive your full award amount if the judge rules the other party to be grossly negligent in your injury. If you’re dealing with a lawsuit for the wrongful death of a loved one, consult an attorney through

Vicarious Liability

Who is ultimately responsible for liability when an employee gets hurt on the job? Can you hold anyone other than the driver responsible for wrongful death in an accident?

Vicarious liability takes responsibility for injury or death to another level. This kind of liability holds more people or entities accountable during an injury or wrongful death case.

For example:

A supervisor might have failed to train an employee for safety protocols, but the corporation could also be at fault for harmful company policies.

The driver might be directly negligent, but the car manufacturer might also be responsible for a car with faulty parts. 

A vicarious lawsuit might seem like an overreach, but a positive outcome can also help hold individuals, businesses, and manufacturers accountable for protecting employees and the general public. 

Proving Negligence Can Be Challenging

Whether the case ends in full or partial negligence, proving negligence requires five critical elements. These are:



Cause In Fact

Proximate Cause


If your lawyer can successfully prove negligence to meet these criteria elements, you should receive the settlement you need to cover medical and recovery expenses.

Get Help Proving Types of Negligence

Proving different types of negligence is difficult in a personal injury or wrongful death case. Make sure you have the right legal help to get the compensation you deserve! It doesn’t have to be all or nothing: even winning a partial negligence ruling can help with loss of income and expenses as a result of an injury. 

We hope you found this information helpful. Be sure you check out more of our articles!

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