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What Is Gross Negligence?

gross negligence
By Michael LoGiudice
Founding Attorney

Many people may have some familiarity with the concept of negligence. In the legal context, things get more specific. Negligence is said to have occurred when a person or entity owes a duty to another, that duty is breached, and the other person is injured as a result. In other words, a person or business had a responsibility to act with a certain standard of care, they failed to uphold this standard, and it resulted in injury to someone else. Did you know that, in addition to ordinary negligence, there is such a thing called “gross negligence?” It’s true. There is a fine distinction between these two forms of negligence that can be important in a number of contexts. We will talk more about that here.

What Is Gross Negligence?

With ordinary negligence, it is usually carelessness in the action or inaction on the part of an individual. Gross negligence, however, rises to another level. It is, you could call it, an amplified version of negligence. Gross negligence involves behavior that rises above mere carelessness to a point where actions could be considered reckless or unreasonable.

In New York, gross negligence involves misconduct that shows a reckless indifference to the rights and safety of others. It is conduct that shows a failure to use even the smallest amount of care. Whether gross negligence exists in a case is highly fact-specific and will determine the circumstances of a particular case.

What does it matter if gross negligence versus ordinary negligence exists in a particular case? It can matter a great deal in many situations. For instance, it is important to note that, in New York, while a party may insulate itself against damages in the event of its ordinary negligence, it may not insulate itself from damages that are the result of gross negligence. This means that, even if you signed a waiver or a release from liability, you may still bring a claim seeking damages against the party that was the result of gross negligence. It is actually true in most states that a waiver that promises that a party will not sue over gross negligence will not be enforceable.

Gross negligence may also play a factor in damages. If a party’s behavior is found to be particularly egregious, it may play a role in the emotional trauma suffered by the injury victim. Thus, gross negligence may be a consideration in calculating pain and suffering damages. It is highly unlikely, however, that a court would award punitive damages even in a case involving gross negligence. Punitive damages are exceedingly rare and generally require an intentional act of malice to be awarded.

Westchester Personal Injury Attorney

The laws surrounding a personal injury claim are vast and complex. Attorney Michael LoGiudice uses his experience and knowledge in the field of personal injury to help his clients maximize their monetary recovery. Should you be injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another, he is here to fight for you. Contact us today.

About the Author
Michael LoGiudice handles all personal injury and medical malpractice claims. He is a graduate of Brooklyn Law School (1997) and has many verdicts and settlements totaling in the tens of millions of dollars.
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