Most personal injury claims result from the effects of an opposite party’s careless actions. In the event of excessive carelessness, the lawyer for the injured party has the right to enter a charge of gross negligence.
What sorts of actions qualify as gross negligence?
• Unreasonable behavior; behavior that shocks the consciousness
• Willful misconduct
• Disregard for obligation to demonstrate care towards others
What are consequences for defendant, if jury accepts charge of gross negligence?
Court might burden the defendant with need to pay punitive damages, in addition to compensation for plaintiff. Court might view punitive damages as a way to keep the defendant from repeating the egregious behavior.
Method for mounting a defense against a claim of gross negligence
A recreational facility that has been charged with an excessive level of neglect lacks the ability to claim an acceptance of assumed risk on the part of the plaintiff. That defense cannot be used, when the defendant has been charged with excessive carelessness or neglect.
Still, the court does expect the plaintiff to produce proof of all 4 elements of negligence.
–Proof that the defendant had a duty of care towards the plaintiff
–Proof that the defendant had chosen to breach that recognized duty
–Proof that the defendant’s actions were the reason for the plaintiff’s injuries. Plaintiffs that want to offer this particular proof must show causation (Evidence that ties the defendant’s actions to the reported injuries.)
–Proof of measurable damages, along with evidence that the defendant should not be held responsible for those same damages.
How do the required proofs create a challenge for the plaintiff’s lawyer, if he or she hopes to prove performance of grossly unreasonable behavior?
The greatest challenge arises from the need to show evidence of causation. Besides showing that the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff’s injuries, the lawyer must prove that the defendant had a duty to alter the nature and extent of those particular actions.
In order to appreciate the difficulties facing a personal injury lawyer in Bedford faced with such a challenge, it helps to envision the following possibility. Suppose that the plaintiff signed up for skiing lessons. Using information provided by the student/plaintiff, the facility assigned that new student to one of the hills for intermediate level skiers.
Unable to master the demands of that hill, the student/plaintiff got injured. The facility might claim that it had not breached its duty, because it had not been informed properly about the nature of the plaintiff’s skiing abilities.
In other words, the plaintiff’s lawyer had no way to produce evidence supporting both of the dual proofs—the one relating to the breach of duty and the one that called for evidence of causation.