Visitor Question

What is considered gross negligence?

Submitted By: Alexis (Tolleson, AZ, USA)

On 7/22/13 the city water department had a busted water line that began to flood the street, sidewalk and a portion of my backyard. I called the police to stress urgency due to flooding, and was told by police they would have the water dept there real soon.

I waited for 30-40 minutes while the water was still going strong, with high pressure and the street and sidewalk getting more and more flooded.

At 6:46pm I called the police and told the same officer I was getting no help from the water department and if he could please call water dept again. The officer said he was told by the water dept that they would be there by 6:26pm. I explained to the officer that no one had been there to fix it. The officer then said would call water dept again.

I have an elderly father who can only get around on a motorized scooter due to arthritis in both knees and is now showing early signs of Alzheimers disease. He insisted I grab a push broom and sweep mud/water from the sidewalk so he can get on with his schedule.

I was very upset so I grabbed a push broom and began sweeping water and mud, when suddenly I slipped and fell on sidewalk. My uncle and mother had to lift me because I was slumped down because the pain to my rear (buttocks) and back was excruciating.

My uncle volunteered to take me to the hospital where they did x-rays and prescribed pain medication. They told me to follow up with my primary care physician.

I’m wondering what is considered gross negligence on the part of the government for not fixing the leak promptly? Are they liable for my medical bills due to the slip and fall? What can I do about this? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Alexis,

Gross negligence occurs when the at-fault party knows, or should have known of the serious danger posed to a third party, and with that real or imputed knowledge, acted in a manner which completely ignored the probability of serious bodily injury or death to a third party.

It is unlikely the city committed gross negligence. First, your injuries weren’t serious enough to meet the standard of serious bodily injury or death. Second, it’s unlikely that the city acted in an intentional manner, or that they knew serious bodily injury or death would occur as a result of their not responding promptly.

You have every right to ask the city to reimburse you for your medical bills. Ask to speak with the city manager or assistant city manager. Explain what happened and submit your medical bills. Hopefully, the city will agree to pay them.

Learn more here: Claims Against the Government

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck!


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