Gross negligence is the failure to exercise even the slightest amount of care, andinvolves complete disregard for another person's safety. If gross negligence isfound by the trier of fact (judge or jury), it can result in the award of punitivedamages on top of general and special damages.
Examples of gross negligence include a doctor amputating the wrong limb of apatient, a driver speeding in a parking lot with pedestrians around, and a caregiverneglecting to give an elderly person food or water for days. There may be very fewdefenses that the defendant could use to protect themselves in a case. However,there are some.
What Are Punitive Damages and How Do They Apply?
Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant and are not technically meantto compensate a plaintiff for a specific loss. However, in the end, the plaintiff is theone who receives the punitive damages from the defendant. A finding of punitivedamages requires intentional misconduct or gross negligence. If this applies to yourcase, then you are in luck!
So let's reconsider a situation in which a surgeon recklessly leaves a medical objectinside you during your surgery. You will most likely to awarded damages tocompensate you for the damages caused by whatever injury sprouted from themisconduct. You would also have a good claim because those in the same line ofduty would have upheld their standard of care to make sure that didn't occur. Youcould argue that the defendant should be punished to deter other people fromgoing through the same thing at his or her hands.
However, there are limitations on punitive damages that you should be aware of. Insome states, like Florida, there are "caps" on damage awards. In this statespecifically any some others, a punitive damage award cannot exceed three timesthe amount of the award of compensatory damages or $500,000 (whichever ishigher). If you believe there may be caps in your state, check with an attorney.There must also be a reasonable basis for an injured person to seek punitivedamages. When you file for a personal injury lawsuit, you must make sure thatthere is evidence. When there is limited or even no evidence of misconduct, a courtwill be able to levy monetary sanctions on the injured person and his or herattorney for seeking the damages. Courts require a reasonable basis to discouragefrivolous claims for punitive damages in personal injury cases.If you believe you have a case involving gross negligence, you will want to speak toa personal injury lawyer about your claim and how they failed to uphold theirduties. They will be able to address any issues surrounding your claim for grossnegligence. These claims will generally need immediate attention due to theseverity of the losses involved in them. Call an attorney that you can trust today.