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Written by: J. Todd Tenge

What Is the Difference Between Negligence and Gross Negligence in Colorado?

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gross negligence vs negligence

If you sustained an injury due to another person’s actions and are considering legal action, you may be wondering if there’s a difference between negligence and gross negligence.

At the Tenge Law Firm, our experienced Colorado personal injury attorneys can help differentiate between the two and determine the potential value of your claim.

Whether your injury occurred as the result of a car accident or a slip and fall, we dedicate ourselves to fighting for your financial, physical, and emotional well-being.

difference between gross negligence and negligence

What Is Negligence?

Negligence is a term used to describe actions that result in a risk of harm to other people. 1Generally, negligent actions arise from a person failing to take reasonable precautions in certain situations.

Some examples of negligence include:

  • A driver running a red light and causing a car accident;
  • A grocery store employee failing to put up a wet floor sign after mopping; or
  • A surgeon causes injury to a patient during a routine procedure.

To pursue compensation for negligence, there are four different elements you must prove: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages.

Duty of Care

To prove negligence, you must first show that the other party owed you a duty of care. This means that they must be legally obligated to take reasonable actions to avoid injuring others.

In a car accident case, this may be as simple as the duty to follow traffic laws.

Breach of Duty

After proving the defendant owed a duty of care, you must show that their actions breached that duty.

For example, if the defendant decides to speed through a stop sign, they are breaching their duty of care to surrounding drivers.


Once you show that the defendant breached their duty, you need to prove that their actions caused your injuries.

Although this sounds relatively straightforward, a defendant may argue that your injuries are the result of a pre-existing condition.


Finally, once you prove that the defendant had a duty of care and that their breach of that duty resulted in your injuries, you must show that you sustained damages.

This includes monetary losses, such as medical bills, as well as non-economic losses, like pain and suffering.

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What Is Gross Negligence?

Gross negligence is much more serious than standard negligence and arises from willful, wanton, or reckless behavior.

Rather than simple carelessness, gross negligence is extreme indifference to the health and safety of others. Examples of this include:

  • A drunk driver speeding down a busy street;
  • A doctor amputating the wrong limb on their patient; or
  • A company selling a product that they know is dangerous without sufficient warnings.

One of the biggest differences between gross negligence and negligence is the availability of exemplary damages.

According to C.R.S. §13-21-102, a victim may pursue exemplary damages in cases of “fraud, malice, or willful and wanton conduct.” The jury usually determines the extent of this award based on the circumstances of the case.

How Our Colorado Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help

For nearly 30 years, the attorneys at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC., have provided diligent representation for injury victims throughout Colorado.

If you sustain an injury due to another person’s negligence, we will fight for the compensation and peace of mind you need. To schedule a free consultation, give us a call at 303-665-2929 or contact us online.

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