Understanding legal terms in extreme negligence cases

Many car accident cases do not rise to the level of gross negligence and punitive damages. These legal terms apply in extreme negligence cases.

What is gross negligence?

Cornell Law describes gross negligence in terms of showing reckless disregard for others’ lives or safety. In addition, the violation appears to be conscious. Gross negligence is more severe than ordinary negligence and less severe than willful negligence. The conduct associated with gross negligence is wanton and reckless.

What is the difference between ordinary negligence and gross negligence?

Ordinary negligence refers to failing to exercise the level of care an ordinary person would exercise in the same situation. It can refer to actions or omissions when a duty to act exists. The duty to act might involve taking precautions to prevent harm from occurring. This type of negligence also could involve creating an unnecessary risk due to carelessness.

Gross negligence refers to the failure to care even slightly about harming another person or their property. It is more extreme than ordinary negligence due to the thoughtless disregard. Typically, a person found guilty of gross negligence would pay for higher damages than someone found guilty of ordinary negligence.

What is an example of gross negligence in a car accident case?

An example of gross negligence might be driving while intoxicated and speeding through a traffic light.

What are punitive damages?

Courts award punitive damages in car accident cases to punish the at-fault party. Punitive damages have the purpose of setting an example that would deter the party and others from future similar conduct. (Reference: Thompson Reuters)

When do courts award punitive damages?

Courts reserve punitive damages for extreme cases, involving gross negligence, or willful, reckless and intentional actions to harm.

How much compensation can you get in a gross negligence and punitive damages case?

Some states have no caps on punitive damage awards, whereas other states have caps. Texas has punitive damage caps that are the greater of either:

  • $200,000
  • Or twice the economic damages amount plus the amount equal to non-economic damages up to $750,000

Get legal help with a serious accident injury

For several decades, the Office of Michael R. De La Paz has successfully represented clients nationwide in accident cases and also throughout Texas, including Houston, South Padre Island and Corpus Christi. Arrange a free consultation to evaluate your potential case.