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How “Gross Negligence” Can Play a Role in a Personal Injury Case

Negligence is a legal concept that describes the failure of someone to do or not do something. In order to prove someone was “negligent,” it has to be established that they had a duty to do something and failed that duty. 

We all have a duty to stop at stop signs. When we don’t stop and hit another car, we are considered negligent for failing to follow the rules of the road. When someone is negligent, they can be held responsible for whatever injuries their negligence causes. 

The concept of “gross negligence” is when someone does something so severe and outrageous that it goes well beyond mere negligence. New York law defines gross negligence as reckless indifference to the rights of others. In order to be grossly negligent, a person has to have a complete disregard for the safety of others.

For example, if failing to see a stop sign and driving through it is mere negligence, failing to see a stop sign while drunk could be considered gross negligence.

Examples of Gross Negligence

There are many types of cases where someone can be grossly negligent. Here are some possible examples:

  • Someone driving with a blood alcohol content well above the legal limit
  • Nursing home staff not feeding a patient for days
  • A doctor performing surgery while intoxicated
  • Accidentally discharging a firearm with people around
  • Surgery on the wrong limb or body part
  • Knowingly selling a dangerous product

Again, these are just some examples of negligence. Any time someone does something knowing that there is a substantial risk of harm to others, they may have committed gross negligence.

The Impact of Gross Negligence on Your Lawsuit

If you and your attorney can submit evidence demonstrating the defendant acted with gross negligence, this can benefit your case significantly.

With personal injury cases alleging just basic negligence, you are able to recover a certain category of damages for your injuries. Here are the damages that you can recover when you are hurt in personal injury cases involving mere negligence:

  • Past due wages and future lost wages
  • Past due unpaid medical bills and cost of future medical treatment
  • Pain and suffering compensation
  • Loss of life enjoyment compensation

But in the rare cases where gross negligence can be proven, another category of damages can be added: Punitive damages.

Punitive damages are a special category of damages that can be alleged in rare cases. In order to seek and win punitive damages, a plaintiff has to present evidence sufficient enough to demonstrate that the defendant acted with reckless disregard for others’ safety — or was grossly negligent.

Punitive damages are a special category of damages that — although paid to the plaintiff — are not designed to compensate the plaintiff. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for the outrageous and reckless acts that constitute gross negligence.

The punitive damages charged to the defendant are also designed to teach the defendant a lesson so they will not engage in the same behavior again. Punitive damages are designed to protect the public in the future.

Our New York Personal Injury Law Firm Helps People Who Have Been Seriously Injured in Accidents

If you have been seriously injured in an accident that was caused by someone’s negligence, or even gross negligence, you need a law firm that will fight for your rights to be fairly and fully compensated for your injuries. 

Based out of Long Island, NY, Kohan Law Group has been successfully representing seriously injured people for decades. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.