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What is Gross Negligence in California Personal Injury Cases?

Everyone in California is required to use due care and caution so as not to cause injury to others. Gross negligence includes an utter disregard for the safety of others. It’s a level of behavior on the blameworthiness scale that’s somewhere in between ordinary negligence and recklessness.

California courts have historically noted that gross negligence is a want of even “scant care.” In explaining what gross negligence is, CACI 425 states as follows: “Gross negligence is the lack of any care or a gross departure from what a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation to prevent harm to oneself or to others. A person can be grossly negligent by acting for failing to act.”

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury due to the gross negligence of an individual, corporation or other entity, contact us today for a free consultation and we will explain your rights to you.

Some Examples of Negligence vs. Gross Negligence  

In a case of ordinary negligence, the allegedly negligent party had no intention of hurting anybody. Maybe he or she slowly rolled through a stop sign while reading a text message and hit a pedestrian. Maybe a hardware store owner didn’t realize that the floor mat at the entrance of his store was bunched up and could trip a customer coming into the store. Gross negligence would constitute extreme disregard or indifference to the safety of others coupled with a likelihood of foreseeable harm. This might include the following:

  • A business selling a product with a long history of dangerous defects.
  • Speeding through a parking lot during a Christmas sale.
  • A doctor performing the wrong procedure on a patient.

Gross Negligence with a Waiver of Liability

Accident victims are sometimes confronted with a signed waiver of liability being asserted as a defense to a personal injury claim. This operates to discourage many people from bringing personal injury claims. If your accident and injuries involve a waiver of liability, you’ll want to speak with an experienced and skillful California personal injury lawyer at Maison Law. What might come to issue are the language of the waiver and the circumstances surrounding the accident and injuries. The general rule in California is that a defendant’s liability waiver for negligence won’t be effective in a case involving gross negligence.

Gross Negligence and Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant and make that defendant an example in order to discourage the public from engaging in the same type of conduct. California Code Section 3294, provides for when punitive damages might be available. There must be clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with oppression, fraud or malice. A claimant is less likely to qualify for punitive damages under gross negligence than he or she would be by alleging recklessness.

Contact a California Gross Negligence Lawyer Today

Even if a judge doesn’t allow an accident victim to proceed with punitive damages, proof of gross negligence can influence awards for non-economic damages in like pain and suffering, any permanent disability or disfigurement or loss of enjoyment of life. Contact us at Maison Law for a free confidential consultation and case evaluation after an accident anywhere in California. If we’re retained to represent you, will be to maximize any compensation that you deserve for your injuries and damages.

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