Every day, people are injured in accidents. They fall off ladders, trip and fall on debris on the sidewalk, are injured in vehicle accidents, and more. Often, the accidents are due to one person’s negligence. If you were injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another person, you may have heard the term “gross negligence.” At Springer & Lyle, we help you understand the difference in negligence and gross negligence and what effect that has on the damages you can collect.
To collect damages for your injuries, you must prove the defendant you are suing was negligent, whether your claim is against a person, business, or municipality. That means you must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant failed to use ordinary care. The elements of negligence include:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care.
- The defendant breached that duty.
- The breach of the duty was the cause of your injury.
- You were damaged due to the defendant’s breach of the duty of care.
One example is if you were driving carefully, following all laws, but were plowed into by another driver who ran through a red light. Another example is if you were in an accident caused by a municipality’s failure to maintain a safe road. If you are injured due to another’s negligence, you are entitled to be compensated for your present and future monetary losses as well as for your noneconomic damages like your pain and suffering.
Gross Negligence Defined
Texas law allows exemplary damages for gross negligence only if “the claimant proves by clear and convincing evidence that the harm with respect to which the claimant seeks recovery of exemplary damages results from,” among other things, gross negligence.
Gross negligence is defined as, “an act or omission which when viewed objectively from the standpoint of the actor at the time of its occurrence involved an extreme degree of risk, considering the probability and magnitude of the potential harm to others.” In addition, the one who was negligent must have had either actual or subjective awareness that there was a risk of serious injury involved in his or her action but went ahead with it anyway, showing a “conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of others.”
Driving a vehicle while intoxicated is a good example of grossly negligent conduct.
If gross negligence is proven, the injured party may also collect exemplary damages, also known as punitive damages. These are not to compensate the injured person for their injury, but to punish the negligent defendant for their egregious action.
The personal injury attorneys at Springer & Lyle can help you obtain the reasonable compensation you are entitled for your injuries, lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other physical damage. Contact us at 940.387.0404 for a free consultation.