What is Gross Negligence?
Texas law uses a rule called modified comparative fault. This means that if you’re injured in an accident, the court will look at whether you were partly at fault for your injury. If you’re found to be more than 51% at fault, you can’t recover your losses. If you were 50% or less at fault, you can get a money award for all of your injuries, reduced by the percentage you were at fault.
As an example, Bob was street racing and crashed into a car driven by Joe. Bob was driving well over the speed limit. In this case, Bob could be 100% at fault. If Joe could have avoided the crash and did not, he is partly at fault for the accident. The court could find that Joe was 50% at fault. In that case, Joe could only recover 50 percent of his damages.
The above example could change if Bob is found liable for gross negligence. The term negligence means that someone acted carelessly and caused injury to another. Gross negligence means that Bob put others at an extremely high risk of injury and broke the law. He knew that street-racing was against the law, and could put other drivers at risk, but raced anyway.
Before Joe can win a gross negligence claim against Bob, he needs to show that:
- Bob owed a duty to Joe and others by law;
- Bob ignored that duty by street racing;
- Bob’s reckless driving caused Joe’s injuries;
- Joe was injured because of Bob’s action.
If Bob is found liable for gross negligence, Joe could be awarded exemplary damages. This means that the court could give Joe an award higher than his actual damages. This type of damage is used to punish in an attempt to reform Bob and others’ behavior so that it does not happen again.
Proving gross negligence in a court of law is a complex matter that involves many different issues. If you’ve been involved in an accident, call Justinian and Associates for a free consultation today.