What are the four types of negligence?

Under negligence, there are four different types, which include:

1. Ordinary negligence

This form of negligence is where an individual fails to take precautions that a reasonable person would take, with their actions (or inaction) causing harm to another person.


An individual driving a car through a red light has resulted in them crashing into another vehicle.

2. Gross negligence

This form of negligence is more extreme and is where an individual consciously disregards the need to use reasonable care.


An individual is running down a busy public path waving lit fireworks in pedestrians’ faces. In this circumstance, if the individual caused someone harm with a firework exploding, for example, this would be classed as gross negligence. Gross negligence carries a higher penalty, with the court having the option to give punitive damages (not just damages to compensate the victim but also damages to punish the offender).

3. Professional negligence

This form of negligence is where a claimant states that a professional has acted without reasonable care or skill. A professional is someone who works in an industry that is regulated. Examples of professionals include an accountant, a medical professional or a solicitor.


An accountant giving incorrect advice has resulted in significant tax consequences that would have never arisen had the claimant been correctly advised. In this circumstance, the claimant can bring action against the professional for those tax losses.

4. Contributory negligence

The defendant commonly uses this form of negligence against the claimant, which argues the claimant’s recklessness. In personal injury cases, contributory negligence is a common defence.


A car hits a cyclist, which caused the cyclist to sustain a head injury. However, the cyclist could have avoided this injury if they wore a helmet.

One of Britton and Times solicitors working on a negligence case