While you may have heard of or used the term “negligence” at some point in time, you may not know that “negligence” in the legal sense has somewhat of a different and more specific definition. In the legal sense, negligence is said to occur when someone owes another a duty of care, that duty is breached by a party, and that breach of duty causes the other person to suffer injury or other actual losses. Drivers are considered to owe a duty to one another to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner, complying with the laws of the road. When a driver violates traffic and safety regulations and someone is injured as a result, he or she may be held liable for paying the damages sustained by the other party should he or she have been injured or incurred other losses.
With negligence playing a central role in personal injury claims, it can be important to understand the basics. It can also be important to understand the fact that, sometimes, a person’s action or inaction may be found to go above ordinary negligence and be instead considered grossly negligent. What, however, does gross negligence actually mean? We will go into more detail about gross negligence here.
What Does Gross Negligence Mean?
While there is no set definition of gross negligence, it is considered to be an action that rises to a level above ordinary negligence, but not up to the level of an intentionally harmful act. Gross negligence is said to occur when a party shows complete ignorance of the rights of others to be safe and free from harm. You could also see gross negligence as acting in a way that poses an unreasonable risk to the well-being of others.
Gross negligence can be important in a personal injury claim under a number of different circumstances. For instance, an injured party may have signed an assumption of risk agreement which waived his or her right to bring any legal action based on ordinary negligence exhibited by the defendant. If the defendant is found to have acted in a grossly negligent way, the injured party may still be able to recover damages from the defendant.
Furthermore, gross negligence may play a role in the award of damages to the plaintiff. Most damages in a personal injury action are compensatory in nature. This means that the damage award is meant to cover the losses and harms incurred by the plaintiff. The damages are an attempt to put the plaintiff in a similarly situated position that he or she would have enjoyed should the accident had not occurred in the first place. Gross negligence may come into play in the award for damages in somewhat of a roundabout way. The grossly negligent actions of a defendant may have caused things such as further emotional damage to the plaintiff. Thus, gross negligence would play a role in calculating emotional distress or pain and suffering damages.
Some people may assert that gross negligence may merit the award of punitive damages. Punitive damages, instead of intending to compensate the plaintiff for losses sustained, are meant to punish the defendant for egregious behavior. It is important to note, however, that punitive damages are unlikely in a Kentucky personal injury action, even in the event of gross negligence being found. This is because punitive damages are only recoverable when the actions of the defendant show a degree of oppression, fraud, or malice.
Personal Injury Attorneys
For more questions regarding personal injury law and your right to seek monetary compensation for injuries sustained in an accident, Dickman Law is here for you. Contact us today.
Posted in: Personal Injury