The Elements of Gross Negligence

To prove someone caused an accident, you have to show their actions were negligent. As a society, we owe a duty of care to each other, meaning our actions should not harm other people. Negligence refers to a situation where someone fails to observe the duty of care, leading to negative consequences like injuries or even death.

Negligence occurs in two ways: ordinary negligence, and gross negligence. Gross negligence occurs when a person is aware of their duty of care to other people but chooses to ignore it by acting or failing to act in a manner required by law. The degree of intention is the main difference between gross negligence and ordinary negligence.

Therefore, here are the elements you need to prove that the actions or omissions of a person amount to gross negligence. Read on.

They Owe You a Duty of Care

The duty of care is the first element you and your lawyer must prove to sustain a personal injury or wrongful death claim. Without showing there was a duty of care, the whole case will fall apart. You have to prove that the defendant actually owed you a duty of care not to cause you harm. For example, a doctor will owe you a duty of care once they accept you as their patient. 

Failing to Uphold the Duty of Care

The next step is to show that the defendant breached the duty of care. A breach of duty of care can be through the defendant’s action or failure to act as required by the law. Your attorney would compare the defendant’s actions to that of an average person if they were in the same situation. For example, a dog owner who knows their dog has violent tendencies but fails to restrain it; hurting you in the process. 

Their Actions or Omissions Causes Injury

It is important to show that the breach of duty of care directly causes you harm. This is the element that makes or breaks the case. If the breach of duty did not cause any harm or loss, the defendant does not owe you any compensation. For example, if a doctor gave you a wrong prescription of drugs and caused harm to you, you can successfully sue them for medical malpractice.

The Individual Knew About the Consequences

Your attorney will also need to prove that the defendant knew about the consequences of their actions. If the defendant did not know about the consequences, their actions might be deemed unforeseeable, and the jury might find them not liable. If the defendant knew about the consequences, they would be liable for gross negligence. For example, a driver running a red light knows the consequences of their actions. 

Chose to Ignore the Consequences of Their Actions

This is where the difference between ordinary negligence and gross negligence appears. An individual with a duty of care decides to ignore it, knowing the consequences of their actions. 

To prove a person’s actions amount to gross negligence, your attorney will have to show how they disregarded your safety and that of others. For example, it is gross negligence if your medical records show you are allergic to a certain drug, and the doctor goes ahead and prescribes it to you. If the drug causes severe injuries to you, you can sue them for medical malpractice.

Find a Personal Injury Attorney

Suppose the defendant’s actions are deemed deliberate, the amount of money you will receive from them will be increased. Sometimes, the jury will include punitive damages to punish the defendant. Therefore, if you have sustained injuries because of someone’s gross negligence actions, you should find a personal injury attorney to help you get justice. 

An experienced personal injury attorney can review your case and solidify your claim that the defendant’s actions amount to gross negligence.  

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