What Does “Gross Negligence” Refer to in a California Personal Injury Case?

The concept of “negligence” is one of the most important aspects of any personal injury case. It’s so crucial, in fact, that most of the hard work in your personal injury case will go toward establishing that the defendant’s actions amounted to negligence. That is, the at-fault party failed to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in similar circumstances. In this post, we will drill down to the different levels of negligence, often classified as “ordinary negligence” and “gross negligence.”

While ordinary negligence may involve carelessness or inattention, gross negligence is the reckless and deliberate disregard for the reasonable treatment and safety of others. In both cases, the fundamental indifference toward responsibility must directly cause harm.

What Does Negligence Mean in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Negligence is a critical factor in personal injury claims and lawsuits. In most cases, the injured person will rely on negligence in order to establish the at-fault party’s fault for the accident.

The first step toward establishing negligence is to prove that the other party had a “duty of care” that gave rise to the accident. A duty of care is a legal term that refers to a person’s responsibility to avoid causing harm to others. If the injured person can demonstrate that the other party failed to meet this duty, they may be able to prove that they were negligent. The last step in establishing negligence is to show that the plaintiff suffered injuries as a result of the accident. For example, negligence may involve:

  • A driver who runs a stop sign, which leads to an accident
  • A store owner who fails to erect a “wet floor” sign, resulting in a slip and fall
  • A property owner who doesn’t replace rotten steps on a porch, resulting in a collapse that injures a guest

It’s important to note that for there to be negligence, the responsible party doesn’t necessarily mean to cause harm, but their careless actions still resulted in an accident.

What’s the Difference between Ordinary Negligence and Gross Negligence?

As we’ve established, ordinary negligence involves the at-fault party breaching their duty of care, resulting in injuries. On the other hand, gross negligence describes such a severe breach of duty that it constitutes recklessness, wanton endangerment of others, maliciousness, fraud, or intent to harm. For example, gross negligence might occur in the following scenarios:

  • A drunk driver speeding in a heavily trafficked pedestrian area
  • A doctor prescribing a patient a drug to which they’re allergic
  • A nursing home staff member failing to provide sustenance to a resident for multiple days

Because extreme carelessness or deliberate actions caused the injury, the damages awarded to the injured party may increase and include punitive damages intended to punish the wrongdoer.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers at Eric Ratinoff Law Corp. Today

If you’ve been injured in an accident and you believe your injuries were caused by the reckless or negligent actions of another person, it’s crucial that you speak with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. At Eric Ratinoff Law Corp., we have over 25 years of legal experience helping injured individuals get the compensation they deserve. Attorney Eric Ratinoff is listed in the National Trial Lawyers as a “Top 100 Lawyer,” and he is dedicated to fighting for your rights.

If you or someone you love suffered severe injuries because of someone else’s negligent behavior, you need the help of an experienced lawyer. Call Eric Ratinoff Law Corp. today at (916) 579-7658 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.