What Is the Difference Between Negligence and Gross Negligence?
The term negligence (also known as “ordinary negligence”) means that a careless mistake or act of inattention results in an injury to another. Conversely, “gross negligence” is a reckless or purposeful indifference to the reasonable safety of others. Generally speaking, gross negligence is a more severe accusation, implying that the defendant was not only careless but reckless and engaged in behavior so egregious that it may appear to some as deliberate.
Fortunately, professional legal assistance is available to help injured individuals get reimbursed for losses related to someone else’s careless or reckless actions. Personal injury law firms like De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers fight for the rights of victims of negligence. Below we will discuss both ordinary negligence and gross negligence, and how they cause injuries that often require the help of legal counsel to compensate.
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What Is Negligence?
In law, negligence (or “ordinary negligence”) is broadly defined as “failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another.”
To file a negligence claim in Nevada, a plaintiff must show that these four elements of negligence exist:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
- The defendant breached that duty
- The breach was the legal cause of the plaintiff’s injuries
- The plaintiff suffered damages
Duty of Care
A duty of care is defined as “the legal responsibility of a person or organization to avoid any behaviors or omissions that could reasonably be foreseen to cause harm to others.”
In NRS 41A.015, the state of Nevada characterizes negligence as “the failure of a provider of health care, in rendering services, to use the reasonable care, skill, or knowledge ordinarily used under similar circumstances by similarly trained and experienced providers of health care.”
For example, if a doctor fails to diagnose a serious condition such as cancer or heart disease when another reasonable doctor would have identified the problem, this may be negligence.
What Is Gross Negligence?
According to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School, gross negligence is “a lack of care that demonstrates reckless disregard for the safety or lives of others, which is so great it appears to be a conscious violation of other people’s rights to safety.”
Gross negligence is such a high degree of negligence that it represents a severe deviation from the ordinary standard of care. It is also characterized by willful and reckless conduct that affects another person’s life or property.
Examples of gross negligence by a healthcare provider include a surgeon amputating the wrong limb or a nurse intentionally ignoring a hospitalized patient who needs emergency medical care.
The Difference Between Negligence and Gross Negligence
Both negligence and gross negligence involve a failure of personal responsibility that directly causes injury or harm to another individual or their property. The main difference between the two comes down to whether the action or inaction committed was merely careless or if it can be interpreted as deliberate and reckless in some way.
The Difference Between Negligence and Medical Malpractice
When a healthcare provider’s action or inaction fails to meet the medical standard of care, their behavior is considered medical negligence. If a patient is injured because of this negligence, it falls under medical malpractice. As long as the patient can prove the legal elements that comprise medical malpractice, they can initiate legal action against the negligent healthcare provider to recover compensation for their injury and related losses.
Medical malpractice comes in many forms. Some examples where medical negligence could lead to a legal claim of malpractice include a failure to diagnose, surgical errors, unnecessary surgery, or prescribing the wrong medication.
Recoverable Damages for Negligence Claims
Several types of damages may be awarded to victims of injuries involving any form of negligence. These include:
Economic damages refer to specific monetary losses that can be calculated by adding up bills, receipts, and the like. Examples include lost wages, medical bills, rehab and therapy expenses, prescription medication costs, and home construction projects (such as wheelchair ramps) to accommodate the injured person. In cases of wrongful death, economic damages may include final medical costs and funeral and burial expenses.
Non-economic damages are more challenging to estimate because they are subjective and not tied to a specific bill or receipt. Instead, these damages cover non-tangible costs, such as physical pain and suffering and emotional anguish. An experienced personal injury attorney can help calculate non-economic damages for you.
Punitive damages are often awarded to individuals in cases where the defendant is found to be grossly negligent. The purpose is to penalize the defendant and discourage them from engaging in similar actions in the future.
Regarding compensation, the fundamental distinction between negligence and gross negligence is the enormity of the defendant’s careless or reckless behavior, the adverse effects of that behavior, and the extent of damages inflicted by their actions.
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How Long Do You Have to Initiate a Negligence Claim?
The time limit in which you are legally entitled to seek action in a civil claim is referred to as the statute of limitations. The relevant statutes of limitations in Nevada include:
- Personal injury– Two years from the date of injury
- Medical malpractice– Three years from the date the negligent act or mistake that caused the injury occurred, or one year from the date the injury was identified or should have reasonably been discovered
- Wrongful death– Two years from the date of an individual’s death
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If you were injured because of another person’s negligence and now face expensive medical bills, lost wages, and other costs, we are here to help. The team at De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers knows the in-and-outs of Nevada law, and we have the resources you need to assist you on the road to recovery.
Our personal injury attorneys work tirelessly on behalf of our clients to secure the monetary compensation they deserve. To learn more, contact us today for a free, confidential case review.