Gross negligence is a legal concept that describes an extreme lack of care or recklessness shown by one party that results in harm. In other words, the grossly negligent party demonstrated a clear disregard for the health and safety of others. It is negligence of a magnitude that is far beyond that of even a careless person.
Ordinary negligence is the failure to provide reasonable care to another person, and gross negligence is an even greater failure. Many situations impose a duty to exercise reasonable care. For example, a driver has a duty to obey traffic laws and do their best to prevent an accident. When a driver breaches that duty, such as texting while driving, they have committed an act of negligence. In contrast, drunk driving may be considered an act of gross negligence.
A party guilty of gross negligence may have known the risk of their actions causing harm to others or damage to property was significant and/or obvious but did not care and committed the act or omission anyway. Other examples of gross negligence include:
Gross negligence can also include a disregard or delay in someone’s immediate care once they are hurt.
In ordinary negligence cases, you may be limited to compensatory damages, including compensation for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, etc. Whereas, when a defendant (at-fault party) is found to have committed gross negligence, they may owe punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. Punitive damages are rarely awarded and designed to punish the defendant for their actions and warn others of similar conduct in the future.
For any negligence case to be successful, whether involving gross or ordinary negligence, the following elements must be present:
Proving the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent will require presenting clear and convincing evidence of the defendant’s blatant or intentional conduct. For example, in a case involving a drunk driver, the results from law enforcement’s drug and alcohol testing. If you or a loved one has suffered harm due to another’s gross negligence, it is in your best interests to hire an experienced St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyer. They will help you fight for the compensation you deserve.