Ordinary Negligence vs. Gross Negligence in Colorado: What’s the Difference? (2024)

Injury and Accident Law
Ordinary Negligence vs. Gross Negligence in Colorado: What’s the Difference? (2024)

Negligence, also referred to as “ordinary negligence,” refers to a careless action or mistake that causes another party to become injured. There are several types of negligence someone can file a claim for, yet proving negligence itself can be challenging for the average Coloradoan. More specifically, there is a form of negligence known as “gross negligence” that involves a purposeful action that results in an injury, and this can be even tougher to prove.

Your goal after experiencing any personal injury should be to heal, not to work through a complicated legal system that you may likely not understand. You should seek out a qualified lawyer to help you with your case. However, it’s also common for those filing negligence claims to wonder if their case is considered ordinary or gross negligence. We hope to explain both concepts more in-depth so you’re better equipped to file a claim.

Ordinary Negligence Explained

Compared to gross negligence, ordinary negligence is a broad term used to define a mistake or failure to show care for others, which, in turn, causes an injury. In several cases, the individual who caused the injury was genuinely careless or made a true mistake. Generally speaking, if someone does not take proper precautions that a reasonable person would take to ensure safety, this falls under ordinary negligence.

Some examples of ordinary negligence can include:

  • A grocery store owner failing to place a Wet Floor sign after a spill occurs
  • A driver running through a red light, causing a collision
  • A homeowner failing to replace worn-down steps to their porch, causing it to collapse under their guests

In the examples above, the person who is responsible for the injuries did not mean to harm others, but they are negligent nonetheless. These people may be required to pay for the damages and injuries.

How Gross Negligence Is Different

Gross negligence differs from ordinary negligence, as this version implies that the responsible party was much more reckless and careless toward others. Negligence is often shown willfully, and these actions are likely to cause injuries or damage in the future.

Gross negligence can be displayed in several ways, including:

  • Nursing home staff neglecting to feed patients for multiple days straight
  • A doctor prescribing a medication that the patient has previously claimed they are allergic to
  • A driver speeding through an area with pedestrian traffic, causing an injury

Because of how severe these examples of negligence are, the compensation a plaintiff can earn may increase, as their damages and injuries are likely more extreme. Also, while car accidents may be considered ordinary negligence, this can upgrade to gross negligence if the driver was driving under the influence (DUI).

How to Prove Negligence in Colorado

To prove that someone was negligent, whether ordinarily or grossly, there are four different elements you must be able to prove. These four are:

  1. Duty. The accused party must have had a responsibility to protect the plaintiff.
  2. Breach. The accused party acted negligently and did not adhere to their duty.
  3. Causation. The accused party’s actions resulted in an injury or harm to the plaintiff.
  4. Damages. The accused party can offer compensation to the plaintiff for the injury.

These elements can be challenging to prove, especially if you attempt to do it alone. You might be able to gather certain pieces of evidence that can enhance your case, such as police reports, medical records, and more, but this can still not be enough. However, the assistance of a personal injury attorney can help you navigate this case and improve your odds of earning compensation. They can find additional evidence to support your claim, as well as convince a judge that you deserve compensation for your personal injury case.


Q: What Type of Negligence State Is Colorado?

A: Colorado is considered a “modified comparative negligence” state. This means that if you are at least 50% responsible for the event that causes injury or harm, you cannot earn any compensation. However, if you are less than 50% responsible, both you and the plaintiff can earn compensation if their amount is also less than 50%. This is determined case by case, so there is no guarantee on how much you can earn.

Q: What Are Three Types of Negligence Claims?

A: There are several negligence claims that can be filed, including a few uncommon types in Colorado. Contributory negligence makes it nearly impossible for accident victims to earn compensation. Vicarious negligence holds someone liable for the actions of their pet or another person. Comparative negligence allows an injured person to earn compensation even if they were partially responsible for what happened.

Q: Is Ordinary Negligence Willful and Purposeful?

A: Very rarely is ordinary negligence considered purposeful and willful. Gross negligence, however, is often considered this, mainly due to the additional factor of the accused party’s intention. Should someone purposefully show neglect for others, and if you can prove this in court, then the accused party is considered grossly negligent. While there may be rare cases where ordinary negligence can be considered intentional, there aren’t many cases where this occurs.

Q: Am I Required to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer for My Negligence Case?

A: You can technically file a claim and address the legal proceedings on your own, though this isn’t recommended. There are several laws and details the average resident may not fully realize, and these can help you strengthen your case if you can spot them. An attorney, however, is well-versed in Colorado personal injury law and can help you build a case that ensures as much compensation as possible.

Contact Cheney Galluzzi & Howard Today

Our staff at Cheney Galluzzi & Howard know how staggering a personal injury can be, and you may be unsure how you can hold the responsible party liable. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through this by yourself. We have the legal experience and knowledge required to create a strong defense for you and prove the other party’s negligence, whether it’s considered ordinary or gross. To learn more about negligence and how we can serve your needs, contact our team today.

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Kevin Cheney

Attorney Kevin Cheney, an experienced personal injury lawyer based in Denver, Colorado, serves as the Managing Partner at Cheney Galluzzi & Howard, LLC. He specializes in personal injury and auto accident cases. His approach combines deep legal knowledge with a commitment to client advocacy. Education: Graduated from the University of Colorado School of Law, demonstrating early legal prowess and a passion for justice. Professional Associations: Active member of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association and the Colorado Bar Association, contributing significantly to legislative and community initiatives. Experience: Extensive experience in handling complex personal injury cases, with a track record of securing substantial compensations for clients.

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