Negligence is a term that often comes up in personal injury lawsuits. It means that the defendant is alleged to have been involved in an unintentional breach of duty of care, and the breach resulted in the plaintiff's injuries.
Gross negligence, however, is even more serious; it means the defendant did not even put the least amount of effort to perform the duty he or she had for the plaintiff. Gross negligence usually arises when the defendant knew, or should have known, that his or her actions would cause injuries to another person. Therefore, most acts of gross negligence border on the intentional.
However, the difference between ordinary negligence and gross negligence goes beyond their definitions.
For simple negligence, the most common legal consequence is compensatory damages (lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, among others). Consider a case where you sign up for horse riding lessons, but your instructor forgets to adjust your saddle properly. If you use the saddle and fall off the animal, then your instructor's actions may be viewed as negligence, and he or she will be required to compensate your injuries.
However, if the instructor knowingly gives you a damaged saddle, and you end up falling, then it will be considered as gross negligence. In this case, the instructor will pay both compensatory and punitive damages. The latter are meant to prevent the instructor from committing a similar act in the future.
Additionally, there are some defenses that may work for ordinary negligence, but not gross negligence. A good example is waiver of rights. For example, a horse riding school may ask you to sign a release form before taking part in its lessons. The release form absolves it of injuries that may arise due to their negligence.
Such a contract may prevent you from suing the school if the horse stumbles and you fall because your saddle wasn't properly adjusted; that is ordinary negligence. However, the release form doesn't hold if you fall due to the school's gross negligence. For example, if your fall is due to riding a sick, weak horse that the school knew about.
Lastly, you should also know that gross negligence may have a criminal element that ordinary negligence does not. This means that if a person's gross negligent act causes your injuries, then he or she may be punished by criminal law too. This might happen if the gross negligent act was also reckless.
The severity of a defendant's negligent acts may influence whether or not they are classified as gross. If you are pursuing a personal injury case, then your settlement is likely to be high if the defendant's actions are classified as gross negligence. Obviously, you need a high standard of proof for this, which calls for the involvement of an experienced attorney like Sarkisian, Sarkisian & Associates PC.Share
12 March 2015
Hi, my name is Sally. I was living a pretty average, uneventful life until I had an accident. At that point, my life become more stressful and painful than I could have ever imagined. Sadly, my accident happened on private property, and it could have been prevented if the owner of the property had kept up with his shoveling. For months, I missed work, suffered through constant pain and become more and more depressed. Finally, a friend referred me to an accident and injury lawyer, and she showed me how to get the compensation that I deserved. I don't want to see anyone else suffer like I did, and because of that, I decided to create this blog. Here, I hope anyone who has been injured can find the information they need to get fully compensated and regain their lives. Enjoy your reading and thanks for stopping by!