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Gross Negligence vs. Ordinary Negligence

Negligence is somewhat of a complex legal term to explain. Gross negligence and ordinary negligence are two different types of ways to prove negligence. Both have different elements you must prove in order to make a claim in court. That is why it is very important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney that could determine what type of negligence your claim is best aligned with.

What Is Negligence?

Generally, negligence is when someone fails to act in a safe manner. Because of their negligence, defendant causes injuries to another. Negligence is better explained as an unreasonable risk of harm onto others.

Examples of negligence include:

Below are all examples of how people could be negligent. Those who were injured as a result of such accidents and bring a claim against these defendants are called the plaintiff. The defendant party did not intentionally act to cause such accidents; however, they were careless enough to cause these accidents to others. All the above examples lead to some type of injury that may require hospitalization and end up with medical bills. If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of someone’s negligent actions, you may have a valid claim against the other party for injuries suffered. You could potentially collect compensation for your injuries.

 How is Negligence Proven?

Negligence is proven when certain elements are established. Despite differing facts, these elements must always be established when bringing the claim in court.

  • Duty: plaintiff must show that defendant had a duty to Plaintiff. This duty is one where the defendant must take steps to make sure that plaintiff is not injured under the circumstances. The duty is to act within the reasonable standard of care.
  • Breach: plaintiff must show that defendant did not act within the standard of care. When they deviate from the standard of care, the defendant breaches their duty.
  • Causation: plaintiff must show that defendant’s deviation from the standard of care caused damage onto Plaintiff.
  • Damages: plaintiff must show that they suffered an injury. The injury must be physical in nature. Damages are proven through various ways such as medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering.

Once these four elements are established, plaintiff thus has a successful claim for negligence against defendant. Plaintiff will be able to seek compensation for their injuries. It is very important that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney to pursue these claims for you since not having enough strong evidence may affect your negligence claim.

What is Gross Negligence?

Gross negligence may seem somewhat similar to ordinary negligence, however have minimal differences. Gross negligence is referred to as a reckless disregard for the safety of others. This occurs when defendant acts with extreme indifference for the safety of others around him. This occurs when there is a severe breach of duty. This occurs when recklessness, wanton endangerment of others, maliciousness, or fraud is shown within the defendant’s actions. Generally, gross negligence is a more severe form of ordinary negligence. Defendant may have known that his actions could end up harming others, but acted anyway.

Examples of gross negligence

  • A hospital fails to perform their maintenance services, and one of the patients fall when placed on the bed. The bed could have been fixed if the routine maintenance was done.
  • A doctor fails to check the patient’s heart rate when the patient is brought into the emergency room. Had the doctor checked, he would have realized that the patient was having a heart attack.
  • The fire department fails to check the entire house to see if there are any others in the building while the building is burning.  They had heard screaming coming from another room in the building shortly before.

When Would Gross Negligence Be Applied in California?

n California, plaintiff could usually bring a gross negligence claim when there are statutes to protect the defendant. When there are statutes to protect the defendant, plaintiff is unable to bring an ordinary negligence claim, therefore plaintiff must then bring a gross negligence claim. Examples of different defendants that are protected from liability statutes include:

  • Government
  • Ski resorts
  • Common carriers
  • Race tracks

These above groups may be protected from liability through specific statutes. Although they are immune from ordinary negligence, they could still be held liable under gross negligence.

Elements of Gross Negligence

The elements of gross negligence are fairly similar to negligence. However, other than the standard negligence elements, gross negligence requires some form of reckless disregard for the safety of others’ life, health, or property. The defendant must be aware of the consequences of his actions. In certain cases, you could also prove the defendant intentionally acted to bring harm upon plaintiff.

Damages for Negligence

There are different types of damages plaintiff could recover from a negligence or gross negligence claim. Below are the examples of damages, along with what they compensate the plaintiff for.

  • General damages: place the plaintiff in a position they would have been have the negligence not occurred. This is meant to compensate plaintiff for the pain and suffering.
  • Special damages: this is meant to cover costs plaintiff has incurred as a result of the breach.
  • Punitive damages: this is meant to deter defendant from taking part in such conduct again.

Punitive Damages

In certain cases when bringing forth a gross negligence claim, the judge may grant punitive damages. Punitive damages are damages awarded by the court that try to make an example out of defendants. Punitive damages are awarded separately from compensatory damages. California limits punitive damages to 9 times the amount of compensatory damages. Learn more about punitive damages.

Talk to an Experienced Negligence Attorney Today

Our attorneys have decades of experience bringing forth negligence claims and will be able to successfully seek compensation for your injuries. To determine if you have a negligence claim, contact are attorneys for a no risk consultation today. We are located in almost every major city in California. Even if there are liability statutes in place that protect the defendant, you still may have a claim for negligence. To determine if you still have a claim for negligence, contact our skilled attorneys. Even if you are injured in Nevada, we can also assist you in bringing forth a negligence claim in that state. We will fully evaluate your case to determine if you have a valid negligence claim, and determine what damages you may be able to recover as a result.

***Disclaimer: This page is created by Heidari Law Group for educational purposes. This article provides a general understanding of the law. It does not provide specific advice. By using this site and reading through this page, there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and any member of Heidari Law. Further, due to the constant change of the law, some parts of the information above may no longer be good law.

Sam Heidari

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Sam Heidari

Sam Ryan Heidari

Sam Heidari is the founding principal of Heidari Law Group, a law firm specializing in personal injury, wrongful death, and employment law with offices in California and Nevada. Sam Heidari has been practicing law for over 11 years and handles a wide range of cases including car accidents, wrongful death, employment discrimination, and product liability. The Heidari Law Group legal firm is known for its comprehensive approach, handling cases from initial consultation through to final judgment. Sam Heidari is dedicated to community involvement and advocacy for civil liberties.

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