Degrees of Negligence – typically classified as simple, ordinary, gross, or slight negligence:

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degree of negligence:

1. One of the varying levels of negligence typically designated as slight negligence, ordinary or simple negligence, and gross negligence. [1]

1. The classes or grades of negligence into which it has been divided by statutes and judicial decisions, ranging from slight negligence to that which is gross, wilful, or wanton.

The majority of common-law authorities have disapproved the concept of dividing negligence according to degrees, but legislative action and even some judicial opinions have injected into the law of negligence the classification of negligence in cases involving certain acts and instrumentalities according to whether it is slight, simple, or gross or whether it amounts to wilful or wanton misconduct. 38 Am J1st Negl § 43. [2]

1. The classes or grades into which negligence is divided for the purpose of determining liability, ranging from ordinary negligence to gross negligence. [3]

     Excerpt from 57A Am. Jur. 2d Negligence § 233, at 274 (1989):

      “Although the common law concept of degrees of negligence has been criticized or repudiated in many jurisdictions, the usefulness of the view at common law that degrees of negligence exist is still recognized in a number of jurisdictions, particularly in regard to the distinction between ordinary and gross negligence. Furthermore,legislators have not been dissuaded from using the degrees of negligence concept when it is helpful to achieve a legislative purpose. [4]


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[4]: 57A Am. Jur. 2d Negligence § 233, at 274 (1989).


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