If you are injured due to someone else’s actions, your personal injury case may include charges for gross negligence. Gross negligence occurs when a person so recklessly fails in their duty of care that they seem to knowingly risk others’ safety.
The consequences of gross negligence in a personal injury case vary depending on the facts of the case. Typically, the responsible party will face more severe penalties for gross negligence than for standard negligence. However, the burden of proof for gross negligence is also higher. If you are not sure whether gross negligence applies in your personal injury case, contact a personal injury attorney. They can help you understand gross negligence and how it can affect your claim.
Difference Between Negligence and Gross Negligence
To pursue a personal injury case for gross negligence, it is important to understand how gross negligence differs from ordinary negligence.
A negligent person or entity may act carelessly or commit errors that endanger others. Although their actions may cause harm, a person guilty of ordinary negligence does not intend to cause harm. They may even be able to show ways that they tried to reduce or prevent harm to others.
Unlike ordinary negligence, gross negligence is intentional. A grossly negligent person or organization willfully disregards the consequences of their actions, even when they know they can cause harm to others. They do not make any effort to eliminate or reduce harm.
The definition and burden of proof required to pursue a claim of gross negligence differ depending on the state where your injury occurred. A gross negligence lawyer Las Vegas can help you understand state laws regarding gross negligence and how they apply to your case.
Consequences of Gross Negligence in a Personal Injury Case
Since gross negligence denotes a willful disregard for the safety of others, the legal consequences are usually more severe than they would be for ordinary negligence. The judge or jury may award higher compensatory damages for your injuries.
The person or entity guilty of gross negligence could face criminal charges if their actions were illegal. If found guilty, the responsible party may face criminal penalties like fines and incarceration. While your personal injury lawsuit is separate from any criminal proceedings, your attorney can use the findings of a criminal trial to support gross negligence in your personal injury claim.
Examples of Personal Injury Cases Involving Gross Negligence
To prove gross negligence, you must be able to establish that the person or organization responsible for your injuries intentionally violated their duty of care, even though they knew the potential consequences of their actions.
Examples of gross negligence could include:
- A driver operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and causes a car accident.
- A driver speeds going 30 mph over the speed limit in a pedestrian area.
- A doctor prescribes or administers a medication even though they know the patient has an allergy to that medication.
- A medical care provider performs surgery or an amputation on the wrong body part.
- A medical care provider or nursing home worker purposefully neglects patients by not providing food, water, medication, exercise, or other critical needs.
- A property owner leaves a major hazard on a property without adequate warning, such as a hole in the ground or a malfunctioning elevator.
- A teacher or coach fails to administer immediate and appropriate aid to an injured student.
In each of these cases, the at-fault party is aware that their actions could cause injury to others, but they proceed regardless.
Damages You Can Pursue in Cases of Gross Negligence
While the court may award a higher value for damages caused by gross negligence, the types of damages you can pursue in your injury case are still based on the type of injuries you sustained, their severity, and their effects on your life.
Damages you can pursue in a gross negligence claim may include:
- Economic damages, such as medical bills, lost income, lost business, and assistive equipment
- Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and emotional anguish
In most states, you can pursue damages related to your injuries that directly affected your quality of life. For example, if you require therapy to recover your physical or mental health after your injury, those costs can be included in your claim. An attorney familiar with your state’s gross negligence laws can help you determine which damages to pursue.
Establishing Fault and Duty of Care in a Gross Negligence Personal Injury Claim
When you decide to pursue a claim for gross negligence, you will need to provide clear evidence that the responsible party had a duty of care. This duty may be different depending on the type of injury you sustained and your relationship to the negligent party. A property owner, for instance, has a duty of care to place railings on platforms over a steep drop. A doctor’s duty of care, on the other hand, is to provide safe and effective treatment within the standard of care for their field.
Duty of care can also transfer to an employer or company. For example, a large truck operator has their own duty of care to drive safely and avoid posing risks to others on the road. However, their employer also has a duty to ensure that the truck driver is licensed, trained, and compliant with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations for service hours. If the employer failed in their duty and they were aware of the potential risks of, for instance, putting an untrained driver on the road, they could be liable for gross negligence.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Prove a Gross Negligence Claim
A Las Vegas personal injury attorney with experience handling gross negligence cases in your state can help you determine who is responsible for your injuries. They can also help you obtain the necessary evidence to prove gross negligence and maximize your settlement value. If you or a loved one suffered an injury because of someone’s gross negligence, the personal injury lawyers at De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers can help. Contact to our dedicated injury lawyers to learn how gross negligence can affect your personal injury claim.