Gross negligence is such severe carelessness that it reflects a complete indifference to the safety of others, as if safety doesn’t matter at all.
Most personal injury cases involve some kind of claim of negligence. Negligence, in general, is any carelessness that results in some kind of injury or damage. But some cases revolve around a specific, extreme kind of negligence known as gross negligence. Gross negligence is outright recklessness. It’s a type of attitude and action that, when described to others, will generally horrify them at how uncaring it was toward human wellbeing.
Gross negligence does not mean that the person intended harm, however. It simply means that, intended or not, they behaved in such a reckless way that it would almost certainly put people in danger. Thus, the defining characteristic of gross negligence is a seeming attitude of “I don’t care” about whether people get hurt.
What Is the Difference Between Ordinary Negligence and Gross Negligence?
Ordinary negligence is any kind of carelessness that ends up causing injury. In many cases it is simply because someone wasn’t paying attention or didn’t think things through. For example; if a convenience store owner isn’t watching their store very carefully and doesn’t notice a spill for several hours, that’s ordinary negligence. It’s a pretty minor mistake, but if someone slipped and got hurt, the owner would be liable.
Gross negligence involves taking an action that almost anyone could tell would put people in danger. For example; if the same store owner thought it would be a funny prank to spread some vegetable oil on a step in the store — to see which employee slips on it — that could be gross negligence. There’s still no intent to cause a serious injury, but it almost seems callously indifferent to whether someone gets hurt.
What Are Examples of Gross Negligence?
Some simple examples of gross negligence might include:
- A man drives up onto a sidewalk at 20 mph when there are kids present
- A doctor prescribes a migraine medication a patient, even though the patient has high blood pressure and the drug includes warnings that it raises blood pressure
- A man is pickpocketed at a crowded festival and draws a pistol, firing into the crowd at the pickpocket
These are just a few examples. Any situation where someone exhibits a complete disregard of common sense is likely to count as gross negligence, if it causes an injury.
What Happens When Someone Acts in a Grossly Negligent Way?
If their gross negligence causes an injury or other damage, they will almost certainly be considered legally liable. In some cases, their actions may also be in violation of a law — reckless driving, DUI, disorderly conduct or much more serious charges — but this is not necessary to hold them responsible. They can be found liable for the damages even if they are never arrested or charged, or indeed, even if they are found not guilty of any crime. Their liability is its own issue separate from any criminal matter.
If you or a loved one were injured by gross negligence, you need someone on your side who can help. The personal injury lawyers of John Foy & Associates are here for you. With over 20 years of experience winning cases, we know how to get victims the financial recovery they deserve — and we offer a FREE consultation. Call 404-400-4000, or complete the form to your right to get your free consultation today.