What Are the Different Types of Negligence?

Almost all civil cases center on the legal theory of negligence – the failure to use reasonable care, resulting in someone else’s injury or damages. During a civil claim, it is the plaintiff’s duty to prove that the defendant was negligent in some manner that caused or contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries. There are almost endless examples of negligence, but all types fall under a few main categories. If you’re considering pursuing a civil action, find out which type of negligence your case might involve.

What Are the Different Types of Negligence?

Contributory Negligence

While Kansas City doesn’t abide by contributory negligence laws, a handful of jurisdictions still do. Contributory negligence finds that if a plaintiff at all contributed to his/her injuries, the plaintiff will not be eligible to recover anything. Even if the defendant is 90% at fault for an accident, and the plaintiff is 10% at fault, in contributory negligence states the plaintiff wouldn’t be eligible to recover a cent. Most states have abandoned this “all or nothing” rule in lieu of comparative negligence laws.

Comparative Negligence

Missouri is a pure comparative fault state. Kansas is a modified comparative fault state. This means that in both states, the plaintiff and the defendant can share liability for an accident. In Missouri, a plaintiff can take home compensation regardless of his/her percentage of fault – even if the individual was 99% responsible for an accident, he or she could still recover 1% of the award amount. In Kansas, the courts have to find the plaintiff 49% or less at fault to be eligible for recovery. If the plaintiff’s fault is at 50% or more, he or she loses the right to compensation.

Comparative fault is a common defense in personal injury lawsuits. The defendant may try to use the plaintiff’s percentage of fault to lower his or her own responsibility for the accident. For example, say a driver who was texting behind the wheel struck a pedestrian who crossed without the right of way. The courts would likely rule in the pedestrian’s favor, but the driver could use the plaintiff’s act of negligence to reduce his or her civil liability. That way, he or she would owe the injured party a smaller amount.

Vicarious Liability

In many cases, an individual, employer, or company may be vicariously liable for the actions or behaviors of animals or people in his/her/its care. For example, most companies are vicariously liable for the actions of its employees. A dog owner may be vicariously liable for damages his or her dog causes to others. To prove vicarious liability, a plaintiff needs evidence that the defendant was responsible for the alleged offender’s actions at the time of the accident. It may be possible to sue both the individual and the entity vicariously liable in these cases.

Gross Negligence

Gross negligence is a type that’s so reckless or wanton that it shows a complete lack of concern for the safety of others. It is the most serious form of negligence, and can result in punitive damages to punish the at-fault party. Gross negligence is a step further than a simple careless action – it is negligence to such an extreme that no reasonable or prudent person would ever have committed the same wrongdoing. An example of gross negligence is a surgeon amputating the wrong body part due to lack of communication prior to the operation.

Seek Help from an Injury Lawyer for Negligence Claims

Regardless of the type of negligence your civil claim involves, seek help from a local attorney. Negligence claims involve some burden of proof on the plaintiff. An injury attorney can help with this burden, as well as with the proper paperwork and processes involved in negligence claims. For any questions about negligence in your case, talk to a Kansas City personal injury attorney.