December 9, 2022
Defining the Term ‘Gross Negligence’ in Georgia
When you are injured due to the negligent, reckless, or wrongful actions of another individual, you know that you need compensation for your damages. When you first meet with an attorney about your personal injury case, the concept of gross negligence will likely come up. But what exactly is gross negligence, and what does it mean for your case?
Let’s look closer at the definition of the term ‘gross negligence’ in Georgia and what that might mean for those who have been injured in Atlanta.
How Is Gross Negligence Defined in Georgia?
For the legal definition of gross negligence, we must look at §51-1-4 of the Georgia Code. According to this section of state law, gross negligence is the absence of slight diligence. Slight diligence refers to the care that every person with common sense will exercise when placed in the same or similar circumstances.
In simpler terms, gross negligence is the reckless or wanton disregard for the safety of others. There is no intent to cause harm but there is an indifference to the safety and wellbeing of those around them.
The Difference Between Negligence and Gross Negligence
In personal injury law, negligence refers to a careless omission, act, or mistake that resulted in the injury of another person. Failing to exercise proper care while engaging in a task is negligence, and it is not necessary to show that an individual was acting without regard for the safety of others.
When investigating your personal injury case, your attorney will look to see if the following four elements of negligence are present. These are:
- That the at-fault party owed you a duty of care
- That the at-fault party violated the duty of care
- That you were injured as a result of the violation
- That you suffered damages as a result of your injuries
This is all that is needed to prove negligence. A personal injury case built on negligence need only show that the liable party violated the duty of care. This is different from gross negligence. For gross negligence, you and your attorney must be able to prove that the person who injured you knew that their behavior had the potential to cause harm.
Again, gross negligence isn’t about the intent to cause harm, but about the reckless manner in which a person engages in a task knowing that it has the potential to cause harm.
Examples of Gross Negligence
So, what actions do gross negligence encompass? In terms of personal injury, gross negligence may refer to a wide variety of reckless or dangerous behaviors. These will vary depending on the type of claim that is being filed.
Consider the following examples of gross negligence for:
Whether driving to and from work, dropping kids off at school, or running errands, most people in Georgia spend time in a vehicle every week, if not every day. In 2020 alone, there were 1,664 traffic fatalities in our state. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, traffic deaths were the number one leading cause of accidental deaths for children and adults aged 5 to 24 and adults aged 55 to 64. Car crashes are the second most common cause of emergency room visits and hospitalizations.
We would see far fewer traffic fatalities and injuries if more drivers exercised care and caution behind the wheel.
Examples of gross negligence in car accident cases include:
- Texting and driving
- Drunk driving
- Road rage or aggressive driving
- Excessive speeding
Property owners have a legal obligation to maintain safe premises that are free from unreasonable harm. When an owner ignores this responsibility, visitors to the property may suffer a serious injury as a result.
It is not uncommon for slip and fall cases to involve allegations of gross negligence for behavior such as:
- Noticing decaying stairs but failing to fix them
- Refusing to hire enough security guards despite evidence of criminal activity
- Failing to place non-slip mats at doorways when it is raining
We trust doctors to treat patients in a manner that is consistent with the current accepted standard of care. Any deviation from that standard of care, particularly when a health care provider knows that it could be hazardous, may constitute gross negligence.
In medical malpractice cases, gross negligence may include:
- Failing to order tests despite the presence of symptoms
- Delaying treatment or surgery without any discernible reason
- Providing care while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Failing to secure a patient’s informed consent
Legal Action for Gross Negligence That Caused an Injury
If you were injured because of another person’s actions, you may be entitled to compensation for any resulting damages. Damages are the losses you suffered as a result of your accident and injury, including things like lost wages, medical bills, property damage, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment in life, and more. These types of damages are typically categorized as economic and non-economic, meaning your financial and non-financial losses.
However, compensation for a third type of damage might be available in personal injury cases involving gross negligence. Punitive damages (also called exemplary damages) are used to punish the at-fault party for especially egregious behavior, including gross negligence. Judges award these types of damages when they believe it will be useful for dissuading a liable party from engaging in similar behavior in the future.
Finding Legal Support After Being Injured by Gross Negligence
You didn’t deserve to be seriously injured by another person’s grossly negligent actions. If you’re unsure where to turn or what action to take, let Bey & Associates be your guide through this difficult period of time.
We’re ready to meet with you for a free case evaluation. Fill out our online form or call our office so that we can match you with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers.