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What Is Culpable Negligence?

One of the most common cases that a personal injury lawyer or slip and fall lawyer will handle is known as “negligence.” Simply put, this means that a person has a sustained an injury as a result of someone else failing to exercise the care or duty that they are legally expected to maintain. Sadly, negligence is an all too common occurrence in many different situations. As you would expect from the word itself, negligence is usually just a matter of carelessness or even laziness. An automobile repair shop that doesn’t bother to clean up a pool of grease on the floor can result in a fall. A stairwell with uneven or damaged steps that should be repaired, wasn’t, and a slip occurs. While these injuries are unfortunate, it’s also very easy to understand why someone would allow a moment of weakness or thoughtlessness to create a situation where an accident can happen.

But then there are very serious cases of negligence that are so extreme that they actually change in scope and nature, and Florida law calls these situations Culpable Negligence. What does this mean?

Extreme Irresponsibility

If negligence is a case of ignorance or carelessness resulting in a regrettable but avoidable injury, culpable negligence means a situation is so dramatic and extreme in neglect that the result is borderline criminal. In some cases, culpable negligence can even tried in court as a criminal charge, rather than a normal civic case.

So what qualifies as culpable negligence?

In many cases in America, a primary example of culpable negligence often relates to the careless use of firearms. For example, let’s suppose that someone has noticed that their pistol has jammed while testing it out and showing it off in front of children. A responsible gun owner would normally address this by taking the gun away from the area where other people are present, and bring it to a private workshop area to disassemble the firearm and properly enact repairs on it, taking care to ensure the gun is not loaded before beginning work.

However, if, in our example the gun owner was feeling lazy, or was merely ignorant, and tried to unjam the gun right on the spot, with children present, and was actually pointing the gun in the general direction of a child when the gun went off, resulting in an injury, this would likely be a case of culpable negligence.

It would be obvious to most—especially with witness testimony—that the user of the gun was not actually attempting to shoot the child. However, this type of extreme carelessness has result in a serious injury. In more tragic cases, it may even result in a wrongful death suit if the child did not survive the experience.

However, in some cases, such as the gun example above, culpable negligence does not necessarily have to result in an injury. If it is clear to all that a person is creating an extremely harmful situation, the action of neglect alone may justify a case of culpable negligence in the eyes of the law. If many people see someone waving a loaded gun around while trying to unjam it, an accident lawyer may feel that even this is enough to go to court as the danger is very real and very present in such a situation.

During his time as a public attorney for the State of Florida, Bernard Walsh developed a passion for defending the legal rights of Florida's citizens. Having seen many people being taken advantage of after being injured and the financial harm that can cause for families he committed himself fully to helping injured clients get justice, by fighting to make greedy insurance companies pay what they owe.

What Is Culpable Negligence?

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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