Gross Negligence: What’s the Difference?
On its own, negligence is bad enough. Gross negligence takes things to a completely new level. When it comes to car accidents, you might hear about “ordinary negligence” and its grosser cousin.
Not everyone understands the difference between the two. However, when “gross” is in the name, it gives you an idea about how bad things are. Still, let’s break the terms down to understand more clearly what it means.
Car accidents are a common example that are easy to work with. Out on the road, we owe each other a “duty of care.” Simply put, that means our behavior protects ourselves and those around us.
Negligence is someone’s failure to provide this level of care and caution any ordinary person might exercise in a given circumstance. Oftentimes, the root of the problem is inattention due to a distraction or a careless mistake.
Regardless, it tends to involve an injury.
While negligence tends to be a mistake, gross negligence is deliberate and reckless. It involves a disregard for the reasonable treatment of others and the safety of those around us.
In both cases, there’s a fundamental disregard for individual responsibility that directly causes harm to someone else or their property.
What Is Negligence?
When someone fails to take the same precautions any reasonable person would take, they act in negligence. If their actions cause harm to another person, that also means their are liable in a personal injury claim.
Here are a few examples of negligence.
- The owner of a store fails to put out a Wet Floor sign after they mop up a spill.
- A driver runs a stop sign and T-bones another vehicle.
- The owner of a house neglects to replace rotting steps on a wooden porch, which collapses and injures a guest.
In the above examples, the responsible person caused unintentional harm to others. However, their carelessness resulted in an accident and an injury. Even without the intent to cause harm, the responsible individual is potentially legally responsible for the damage that results.
Through a personal injury claim, the victim has an opportunity to recover compensation for their unexpected medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and any other relevant costs.
Additionally, they might have an opportunity to pursue compensation for mental anguish, pain, and suffering that resulted from the injuries.
How to Prove Negligence
When someone else’s negligence causes an injury, you have to prove the presence of four key elements. If you partner with an attorney, their legal team conducts an investigation to establish these factors.
- Duty: The defendant owed the victim a legal duty of care to protect them from harm in the situation.
- Breach: The defendant breached their duty of care through recklessness, carelessness, etc.
- Causation: The action or inaction of the defendant was the direct cause of the plaintiff’s injury.
- Damages: The actions of the defendant caused harm to the plaintiff’s life.
When these elements are present in your personal injury claim, the victim may have a valid lawsuit. This means they have the potential to pursue compensation for their damages.
Gross Negligence Defined
As mentioned earlier, gross negligence involves a reckless disregard for or indifference to the safety of others. Generally speaking, gross negligence goes beyond a simple mistake or failure to act in a situation.
It is a willful choice to act with disregard for the health and safety of others. Moreover, it is behavior likely to cause easily foreseeable harm.
Here are a few examples to consider.
- A driver speeds through an area with a lot of pedestrian traffic.
- Your doctor prescribes a drug that your medical records clearly state you have an allergy for.
- The staff of a nursing home fails to provide food or water to a resident over the course of several days.
As you can see, there is a deliberate action or extreme lack of care that leads to property damage, an injury, or even death. Due to this, the damages awarded to the victim might increase. Typically, this means that the compensation includes punitive damages included to punish the defendant.
While many car accidents involve some level of ordinary negligence, some judges and juries consider an injury caused by a drunk driver to be gross negligence. However, this also depends on the circumstances of the case.
How to Pursue a Claim
Whether it’s caused by negligence or gross negligence, an injury caused by another person’s actions means you have options. In these cases, it is crucial to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. When you consult a personal injury lawyer, they review the facts of your case and help you understand your options.
Moreover, they can explain whether ordinary or gross negligence applies to your accident. While you have the option to pursue an accident claim on your own, your best bet is to have an advocate in your corner.
With an experienced personal injury attorney, you gain peace of mind and space to heal. Their legal team handles all communication and investigation on your behalf. At Nguyen & Chen, our accident injury attorneys investigate your claim to determine the root cause.
Then, we work to define fault and maximize your settlement. With the right evidence, we build your claim and pursue your best interests.
At your free consultation, we help you understand the value of your claim. However, it’s important to act quickly and seek the medical care you need. The longer you wait, the more time it gives the insurance company to justify denying your claim.
Are You a Victim of Gross Negligence?
When someone else’s negligence causes you harm, you have rights. Our personal injury attorneys fight to protect your rights and your future. We work with you to ensure you have everything you need to move on with your life.
Let our compassionate, skilled attorneys help you through this stressful time. While you recover, we focus on maximizing your settlement to attain the compensation you deserve. To start your claim, contact our firm today.