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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

What Is Gross Negligence? What Indiana Victims Need to Know

When filing a lawsuit for damages caused by another person's negligence, it is important to understand the difference between negligence and gross negligence, and how this might affect the outcome of a personal injury claim.

Choosing the wrong option might result in the offender being found not liable for any damages, which might mean the victims end up walking away empty-handed. Answering the question "What is gross negligence?" is, therefore, the first step in preparing for personal injury lawsuits.

In Indianapolis, Indiana, there are fine margins between tort law, civil law, and criminal law. This is why victims need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney before filing a lawsuit in civil court.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has built a strong reputation in Indiana for going to war for victims in negligence claims. They have knowledge on contributory vs comparative negligence.

Victims seeking justice and fair compensation can call the law firm's Indianapolis offices at +1 463-203-1198 and ask for a free case evaluation.

Difference Between Negligence and Gross Negligence

Difference Between Negligence and Gross Negligence

As people go about their daily lives, there is a legal duty of care that a reasonable person is expected to have concerning the safety of others.

If a person makes a subconscious or conscious violation of other people's rights by making a careless mistake, or if he/she demonstrates reckless disregard for the safety of others, they may be held liable for negligence.

However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. During the investigation and resulting lawsuit, the personal injury lawyer representing the victims needs to decide whether to sue for ordinary negligence or gross negligence.

What Is Ordinary Negligence?

Situations in which a person does not take the precautions that a reasonable person would take may result in a personal injury claim for ordinary negligence if the victims get injured. Here are a few common examples:

  • Failing to stop at a stop sign and causing an accident

  • Not placing adequate signs around a wet floor and causing someone to slip and injure themselves

  • Failure to make proper repairs in a house, which causes visitors to get injured

In each of these cases, the defendant owed a duty of care to others, but never intended to cause harm to the injured party.

However, even though the defendant did not have any malicious intentions, the victims still deserve to be compensated. They have medical bills and lost wages to consider, as well as the pain and suffering they have experienced.

An ordinary negligence lawsuit will help victims of such situations get the compensation they deserve. With the help of experienced personal injury lawyers, victims can walk away with damages from those deemed responsible for the negligent act.

What Is Gross Negligence? - Reckless Disregard for the Safety of Others

Gross negligence, on the other hand, is a lot more serious. If a defendant is found to have been grossly negligent in a personal injury case, it means there is sufficient evidence to show that there was thoughtless disregard for the safety of others, which led to the victims being injured.

It is important to understand that gross negligence goes beyond simply not having reasonable care for the well-being of the other party.

There have to be signs of purposeful behavior for the defendant's actions to be considered gross negligence. Consider the following examples:

  • Speeding and driving recklessly through an intersection, and causing a serious collision

  • Neglecting and failing to feed an elderly resident at a nursing home for many days

  • Knowingly allowing tenants to live in a house that has asbestos, and causing them to develop serious medical problems

The common factor in each of these cases is that the defendant owed a duty of care to the victims, and knowingly decided to ignore it. Such a deliberate action warrants further punishment in the eyes of the law, and is what makes this a case of gross negligence rather than ordinary negligence.

Four Elements of Negligence

Proving fault in negligence and gross negligence claims is not always an easy thing to do. Before successfully proving negligence, a lawyer has to show that the following four elements are present:

Duty of Care

The attorneys have to establish that the negligent party had a duty of care towards the injured victims. If this is a case of a car accident, the at-fault party should have been the one behind the wheel, meaning the safety of those in the car and other road users was their responsibility.

Breach of Duty of Care

Next, it should be shown that the defendant breached their duty of care to the victim. This element is open to interpretation, meaning then personal injury attorneys in Indianapolis IN must be able to demonstrate to the court that a reasonable person would have acted differently in such a situation.


The third element is causation. Here, the attorneys have to prove that the injuries suffered by the victims are a direct result of the breach of reasonable care by the defendant. Failure to prove a connection between the two incidents might lead to the personal injury claim being unsuccessful.


Finally, the attorneys need to justify the damages being sought by the victims. This means proving that the victims suffered actual harm, which resulted in medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and other losses.

Is Medical Malpractice the Same As Negligence?

Is Medical Malpractice the Same As Negligence?

If doctors and nurses fail to provide the expected level of reasonable care to a patient, this may be deemed negligence. However, if these negligent actions result in injury to the victim, then this will fall under medical malpractice.

An example is gross negligence by a surgeon that leads to them amputating the wrong limb. Determining which type of legal claim to pursue will often require the advice of an experienced lawyer.

Indiana Victims of Negligence and Gross Negligence Can Sue for Damages

Determining whether to sue the defendant for negligence, gross negligence, criminal negligence, or medical malpractice is something that a good lawyer will be able to help with. As well as reviewing the burden of proof in a personal injury case.

Victims seeking fair compensation in Indiana will need an attorney who is ready to go to war for their rights. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has the knowledge and experience to help victims walk away with huge damages after personal injury claims.


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