The Cassidy Law Firm Blog

Monday, March 22, 2021

What Is Gross Negligence?

Negligence is at the heart of most personal injury claims. In its most basic sense, negligence is when someone fails to act with reasonable care and someone is injured as a result. Beyond negligence, there is also gross negligence. What exactly is gross negligence? What kind of implications does gross negligence have in a personal injury claim? We will discuss the answers to these questions in more detail here.

What Is Gross Negligence?

To detail gross negligence, it may be helpful to begin with a discussion of ordinary negligence. Ordinary negligence involves four essential elements. First, there was a duty a person owed to someone else. This duty may be situational, such as drivers owing each other a duty of care on the road. This duty may alternatively be based on a relationship, such as a doctor owing a patient a duty of care. Secondly, there must have been a breach of this duty. The party must have failed to uphold his or her duty of care owed to the other person. Thirdly and fourthly, the breach of the duty must have been the actual and foreseeable cause of harm to the other party. So, the third element is causation and the fourth element is harm, or damages, suffered by the other party as a result of the negligent action or inaction of the at-fault party.

While it is difficult to pin down a precise definition of gross negligence, many have defined it as something that is more than ordinary negligence but falls short of willful or intentionally harmful misconduct. Gross negligence involves an action or inaction that shows a reckless disregard for the wellbeing of others. The action or inaction creates an unreasonable risk of harm and demonstrates a conscious disregard for the safety and wellbeing of others.

In a personal injury action, gross negligence can have a notable impact on damages on a few different levels. First, particularly egregious behavior rising to the level of gross negligence may have impacts on the amount of pain and suffering endured by the injury victim. Furthermore, the plaintiff in a gross negligence case may be awarded punitive damages.

While punitive damages are exemplary and rarely awarded, they may be paid to an injury victim who suffered due to the gross negligence of another. You see, most of the damages in a personal injury claim are compensatory in nature. This means that they are intended to compensate the victim for harm and losses suffered. Punitive damages are different as they are not intended to compensate the victim for losses, but are instead intended to punish the defendant for their egregious behavior. Many states have caps on punitive damages and New Jersey is no different. In New Jersey, any punitive damage award is capped at up to five times the amount of compensator damages or $350,000, whichever is the greater of the two.

New Jersey Personal Injury Attorneys

Have you been injured due to the ordinary or grossly negligent actions of another? Let the trusted team of personal injury attorneys at The Cassidy Law Firm fight for your legal right to recover full and fair compensation for the harm you have suffered. Contact us today.


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