Car accidents, truck accidents, bus accidents, pedestrian accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, assault, battery, sexual assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, for example, could all result in victims being awarded punitive damages – given that gross negligence was involved. If you would like to learn more about gross negligence and recovering punitive damages, do not hesitate to seek legal assistance with the experts at Downtown L.A. Law Group as soon as possible.
Our lawyers are ready to evaluate your claim and provide you with all the information that you need to gain a thorough understanding about whether gross negligence was a factor in the harm that you suffered – as well as whether you will be eligible to recover punitive damages. If you would like to speak with our knowledgeable attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us today at the Downtown L.A. Law Group. We are ready to fight for your rights.
What is Gross Negligence?
Based on CACI No. 425, Gross negligence “is the lack of any care or an extreme departure from what a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation to prevent harm to oneself or to others.” In other words, gross negligence is reckless conduct that constitutes a cognizant/conscious disregard or indifference to other parties’ safety. Gross negligence should never be confused with what we know as ordinary negligence (a simple breach of duty of care towards other parties).
Consider the following scenarios.
An employer owns a commercial truck that is vital for the success of the company. The truck driver (employee) experiences a few concerning mechanical issues while driving the commercial vehicle. The employer was informed but took no immediate action; after all, he could get it looked at and fixed over the weekend as to avoid disrupting the work week. The next day, the mechanical issue causes an accident and the driver is injured.
The situation is the same. However, instead of taking no immediate action, the employer contacts a mechanic to come to the company and take a look at the commercial vehicle. Upon an inspection and a test drive, the mechanic concludes that the mechanical issue makes driving the truck dangerous and that it should stop being used (and get fixed) immediately. The mechanic makes it clear that failing to fix the issue immediately could result in an accident. The employer decides to ignore the mechanic’s recommendations. The next day, the mechanical issue causes an accident and the driver is injured.
What is the difference between the two scenarios above? In the first scenario, the employer was informed of the potential mechanical issue. However, he decided to postpone getting the vehicle checked out for what would have been just a few days. In the second scenario, the employer was informed of the potential mechanical issue and had confirmation from a mechanic. The employer was well-aware that continuing to drive the truck would be dangerous; yet, the employer consciously ignored the mechanic’s warning.
In the first scenario, the employer was negligent because of the failure to immediately address the mechanical issue. In the second scenario, the employer was grossly negligent because he made the conscious decision to ignore the mechanical problem, even though he was informed that continuing to drive the vehicle could be dangerous.
For more information or a more in-depth discussion of gross negligence, do not hesitate to seek legal assistance with the experts at our law firm as soon as possible.
How can Gross Negligence affect Your Claim?
The way in which gross negligence affects your claim is simple – claims in which gross negligence is a factor will likely be eligible for punitive damages. The purpose of punitive damage is to punish the defendant and discourage the defendant from acting in a way that would lead to a similar incident. Although plaintiffs can recover punitive damages as an additional category of monetary compensation, punitive damages are not associated with any specific injury (compensation for an injury). If you are eligible to an award of punitive damages, the value of your claim might significantly increase.
California Law and Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant. Punitive damages are typically difficult to recover under California law. Compensation for punitive damages could be available in cases in which the defendant’s actions (that resulted in the victim’s harm) were malicious and extreme. Under California Civil Code 3294, plaintiffs can only be awarded punitive damages when there is clear and credible evidence that the defendant acted with intentions of oppression, fraud, or malice. Punitive damages might also be awarded in cases in which a defendant is found guilty of willful and wonton negligence (acting with the knowledge that specific actions will result in harm).
In general, punitive damages are not available for wrongful death cases; however, exceptions could apply. When a defendant is convicted of committing a felony murder, for instance,. Claimants could be awarded punitive damages. Additionally, claimants (surviving family members) could recover punitive damages only by filing a survivorship claim (and only in instances in which the victim would have recovered punitive damages had he or she survived the incident).
Many states place caps on the punitive damages that could be awarded. However, California does not place a limit. Although not an explicit limit, a Supreme Court case held that “grosly excessive or arbitrary punishments” are prohibited by the Fourteenth Amendment; therefore, all punitive damages must be “reasonable and proportionate to the harm to the plaintiff and to the general damages recovered” (State farm v. Campbell).
What is the Difference Between Ordinary Negligence vs. Gross Negligence?
For more information about California law and punitive damages, do not hesitate to seek legal assistance with our experts as soon as possible. Our experts are ready to provide you with all the information that you need to understand your right to recover punitive damages.
Take Legal Action
If you were involved in any sort of personal injury accident, you might be conflicted about whether or not you have the right to pursue a claim. For instance, the party that contributed to your accident might be denying liability for one reason or another; however, with the help of an attorney, you might be able to prove that your accident was a result of gross negligence. If the harm that you suffered was a result of gross negligence, it is essential that you seek legal assistance as soon as possible to pursue a claim against the party liable for the harm that you suffered – you might be eligible to recover significant compensation for punitive damages.
If you are in need of legal assistance, do not hesitate to contact the experts at Downtown L.A. Law Group as soon as possible. Downtown L.A. law group is a personal injury law firm with many years of experience handling many different claims and ensuring that victims and their families are rightfully compensated. When you contact our law firm, you will find that we offer free legal services, which include free consultations and free second opinions. During these free legal services our experts will be available to answer all your questions, address all your concerns, and ensure that you have all the information that you need to pursue your claim (whether you are interested in starting or continuing your claim).
These free legal services are available as part of our Zero-Fee guarantee that ensures that our clients will never pay any upfront legal fees. Our firm is also based on a contingency structure that ensures that our clients will never be required to pay anything until after reaching a successful claim outcome. If you would like to discuss your claim with our lawyers, do not hesitate to contact us today.