You may be wondering what the legal difference is between gross negligence vs negligence in the state of Maryland. These two terms are quite different and can lead to substantially different outcomes for victims of accidents or other types of injury.
Gross negligence is much more severe than simple negligence. Gross negligence is concerned with the defendant’s conscious disregard of their conduct’s potential to hurt the health, life, or property of another party. When a victim succeeds in proving gross negligence, they can more easily claim the compensation they are entitled to.
The legal gross negligence definition varies depending on the context. According to the legal precedent established by the case of State & Brown v. WBAL-TV, gross negligence is “an intentional or particularly reckless failure to meet a duty.” The defendant must have acted (or failed to act) with reckless disregard for the consequences of their behavior to someone else’s life, health, or property and made no effort to avoid them. Acting with intent to harm someone is also considered gross negligence.
The difference between negligence and gross negligence is important because, under Maryland law, there are more legal avenues to sue for gross negligence than for simple negligence. This is because certain defendants that might otherwise have protection from regular negligence lawsuits can still be sued for gross negligence. These types of defendants include emergency services providers and first responders, veterinarians, and agents of certain non-profit organizations. Additionally, individuals and businesses that have protected themselves legally from simple negligence lawsuits cannot protect themselves from gross negligence lawsuits.
Here are some common examples of situations where gross negligence could come into play.
Doctors, nurses, and other medical providers can make mistakes. But when medical professionals decide to proceed with a risky and unnecessary procedure due to self-interest or intentionally do not follow basic medical protocols, they may be liable for gross negligence in some cases.
When a party demonstrates a reckless disregard for meeting the terms of a contract that they undertake, this can be seen as gross negligence and entering a contract in bad faith. For example, if Lily contracts with Marshall to sell him her CD collection in exchange for money but has no such collection or the intention of obtaining one, and she misled Marshall to believe that she did, that’s gross negligence.
Not every car accident demonstrates gross negligence on the part of one or more parties. In the state of Maryland, any accidents caused by excessive speeding, drunk driving, or drag racing could be grounds for gross negligence lawsuits.
Manufacturers are required to prevent harm from befalling anyone who may come into contact with or use their product. Another gross negligence example is if said manufacturer is aware of a defect or condition in their product that could cause serious harm and fails to act, they could be sued for gross negligence by consumers. The most common product liability cases relating to gross negligence are related to asbestos.
Successful simple negligence lawsuits in Maryland award compensation to victims calculated solely based on the consequences of said negligence. But in cases of gross negligence, a court may decide to award punitive damages.
Punitive damages are a form of victim compensation determined by the degree of gross negligence on the part of the defendant. Punitive damages are meant to both punish the defendant for their recklessness and discourage similar recklessness from other parties going forward.
Were you injured in an accident that you think may be grounds for a gross negligence lawsuit? Contact the personal injury attorneys at Zirkin & Schmerling. We know about gross negligence law and have years of experience representing the people of Maryland in negligence and gross negligence lawsuits, so you can be sure we will fight to get you every penny of compensation you deserve. Call us at 410-753-4611 or contact us here for your free case consultation.