2021 Georgia Code
Title 51 - Torts
Chapter 1 - General Provisions
§ 51-1-4. Slight Diligence and Gross Negligence Defined

Universal Citation: GA Code § 51-1-4 (2021)

In general, slight diligence is that degree of care which every man of common sense, however inattentive he may be, exercises under the same or similar circumstances. As applied to the preservation of property, the term "slight diligence" means that care which every man of common sense, however inattentive he may be, takes of his own property. The absence of such care is termed gross negligence.

(Orig. Code 1863, § 2036; Code 1868, § 2037; Code 1873, § 2063; Code 1882, § 2063; Civil Code 1895, § 2900; Civil Code 1910, § 3473; Code 1933, § 105-203.)

Law reviews.

- For article, "The Georgia Jury and Negligence: The View from the Bench," see 26 Ga. L. Rev. 85 (1992). For article, "Georgia Law Needs Clarification: Does it Take Willful or Wanton Misconduct to Defeat a Contractual 'Exculpatory' Clause, or Will Gross Negligence Suffice," see 19 Ga. St. B. J. 10 (Feb. 2014). For comment on Caskey v. Underwood, 89 Ga. App. 418, 79 S.E.2d 558 (1954), finding that the lower court erred in defining gross negligence as the "entire absence of care," see 16 Ga. B. J. 464 (1954). For comment on Austin v. Smith, 96 Ga. App. 659, 101 S.E.2d 169 (1958), concerning gross negligence in relation to gratuitous automobile guest, see 20 Ga. B. J. 552 (1958).



  • General Consideration
  • Applicability to Specific Cases
  • Pleading and Practice
  • Jury Instructions
  • Gross Negligence as Jury Question


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 57A Am. Jur. 2d, Negligence, §§ 5 et seq., 218 et seq., 227 et seq., 239.


- 65 C.J.S., Negligence, § 1 et seq.


- Automobiles: liability of owner or operator for injury to guest, 20 A.L.R. 1014; 26 A.L.R. 1425; 40 A.L.R. 1338; 47 A.L.R. 327; 51 A.L.R. 581, 61 A.L.R. 1252, 65 A.L.R. 952; 61 A.L.R. 1252; 65 A.L.R. 952.

Duty of carrier to guard young children against danger of falling from car, 28 A.L.R. 1035.

What amounts to gross or wanton negligence in driving an automobile precluding the defense of contributory negligence, 72 A.L.R. 1357; 92 A.L.R. 1367; 119 A.L.R. 654.

What constitutes gross negligence or the like, within statute limiting liability of owner or operator of automobile for injury to guest, 74 A.L.R. 1198; 86 A.L.R. 1145; 96 A.L.R. 1479.

Who is a guest within contemplation of statute regarding liability of owner or operator of motor vehicle for injury to guest, 82 A.L.R. 1365; 95 A.L.R. 1180.

Test or criterion of gross negligence or other misconduct that will support recovery of exemplary damages for bodily injury or death unintentionally inflicted, 98 A.L.R. 267.

Automobiles: gross negligence, recklessness, or the like, within "guest" statute or rule, predicated upon manner of operating car on curve or hill, 136 A.L.R. 1270.

Conduct of operator of automobile at railroad crossing as gross negligence, recklessness, etc., within guest statute, 143 A.L.R. 1144.

Custom or practice of drivers of motor vehicles as affecting question of negligence, 172 A.L.R. 1141; 77 A.L.R.2d 1327.

Custom or practice of drivers of motor vehicles as affecting question of negligence, 77 A.L.R.2d 1327.

Payments or contributions by or on behalf of automobile rider as affecting his status as guest, 10 A.L.R.2d 1351.

Guest's knowledge that automobile driver has been drinking as precluding recovery, under guest statutes or equivalent common-law rule, 15 A.L.R.2d 1165.

Propriety of granting summary judgment in case involving issue of gross or wanton negligence, 50 A.L.R.2d 1309.

Mutual business or commercial objects or benefits as affecting status of rider under automobile guest statute, 59 A.L.R.2d 336.

Applicability of guest statute where motor vehicle accident occurs on private way or property, 64 A.L.R.2d 694.

Intoxication, unconsciousness, or mental incompetency of person as affecting his status as guest within automobile guest statute or similar common-law rule, 66 A.L.R.2d 1319.

Applicability of res ispa loquitur doctrine where motor vehicle turns over on highway, 79 A.L.R.2d 211.

Applicability of guest statute and its requirement of gross negligence, wanton or wilful misconduct, or the like, to owner's liability for injuries to guest in vehicle negligently entrusted to incompetent driver, 91 A.L.R.2d 323.

Liability, under guest statutes, of driver or owner of motor vehicle for running over or hitting person attempting to enter the vehicle, 1 A.L.R.3d 1083.

Speed, alone or in connection with other circumstances, as gross negligence, wantonness, recklessness, or the like, under automobile guest statute, 6 A.L.R.3d 769.

Gross negligence, recklessness, or the like, within "guest" statute, predicated upon conduct in passing cars ahead or position of car on wrong side of the road, 6 A.L.R.3d 832.

Share-the-ride arrangement or car pool as affecting status of automobile rider as guest, 10 A.L.R.3d 1087.

Liability insurance as covering accident, damage, or injury due to wanton or wilful misconduct or gross negligence, 20 A.L.R.3d 320.

Applicability of res ipsa loquitur where plaintiff must prove active or gross negligence, willful misconduct, recklessness, or the like, 23 A.L.R.3d 1083.

Nonmonetary benefits or contributions by rider as affecting his status under automobile guest statute, 39 A.L.R.3d 1083.

Automobile guest statute: status of rider as affected by payment, amount of which is not determined by expenses incurred, 39 A.L.R.3d 1177.

Payments on expense-sharing basis as affecting guest status of automobile passenger, 39 A.L.R.3d 1224.

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