What is Gross Negligence?

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Most people have heard of the term negligence. However, what happens if you put the word “gross” in front of the word “negligence?”

Gross negligence is a term you will most likely hear in court or civil complaints. This does have a specific meaning, particularly when it comes to determining the actions of an individual. One area where we will hear the term gross negligence is personal injury law.

In order for one person to be held liable for injuries they cause to another, it generally needs to be shown that the at-fault party acted negligently in some way. However, if it is determined that they acted grossly negligent, this could have repercussions when it comes to paying compensation and additional types of damages that may be awarded.

Here, we want to define “gross negligence” and discuss how this could affect the total amount of compensation a person has to pay to someone that they caused harm.

What is Ordinary Negligence?

In order to properly understand gross negligence, we need to examine regular negligence so we can compare the two. Ordinary negligence is what we are usually dealing with concerning personal injury cases. This type of negligence occurs anytime a person fails to take the reasonable precautions that any other rational person would take in a similar situation. Often, a person’s negligence can cause harm to others. Some common examples of ordinary negligence include:

  • Drivers who violate traffic laws because they are distracted by their phones
  • Store owners who fail to put up “wet floor” signs after mopping or waxing
  • Property owners failing to replace faulty steps after they know the steps are hazardous

In each of these situations, the party responsible for these hazardous conditions did not necessarily intend to create the hazard, but their actions could nevertheless result in an injury.

How is Gross Negligence Different?

Gross negligence is going to be defined as a person exhibiting an extreme indifference or reckless disregard for the safety of others. This is much more than just traditional negligence – this goes beyond simple carelessness or the failure to act responsibly. Gross negligence is often willful behavior conducted on the part of the alleged negligent party. This type of conduct typically has a foreseeable harm.

Some common examples of gross negligence include the following:

  • A driver going 70 mph through a crowded parking lot cordoned off for a festival
  • A doctor prescribing a medication that a patient’s medical records clearly says they are allergic to
  • Nursing home or assisted living facility staff failing to provide medications to a patient for several days

Any victim of the gross negligence of another individual will typically be awarded the same types of compensation as those harmed due to ordinary negligence. However, these victims may also receive additional types of compensation in the form of punitive damages that are intended to punish the wrongdoer.

Working With a Personal Injury Attorney

If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of another individual, business, or entity, you need to work with a skilled personal injury attorney as soon as possible. In the event you were harmed due to the gross negligence of another individual, you may be entitled to a range of types of compensation, including economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. An attorney will be able to thoroughly investigate the entire case, properly calculate total expected losses, and help you recover the compensation you need.