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Difference Between Negligence and Gross Negligence

In Atlanta car crash claims, negligence is an important thing to consider, but is gross negligence different? A driver is said to be negligent if the driver breached the duty of care owed to other people on the road. When this breach results in injuries or vehicle damage, you have a valid claim. An Atlanta car crash lawyer can help you file the claim and secure fair compensation.

However, proving negligence can be hard and there are a number of factors to be considered. Depending upon the degree of negligence of the at-fault driver, negligence may be classified as standard negligence or gross negligence. The types of damages available in the case of each type of negligence also differ. Here is a look at what each type of negligence constitutes and how the two differ.

What is Standard Negligence?

As noted above, a driver on the road owes a duty of care to other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and any other persons on the road. This duty constitutes obeying traffic laws, driving safely, being considerate, and preventing any harm to the person or property of another.

When a driver fails to uphold this duty, this constitutes a breach. For instance, if a driver was speeding or ran a red light which led to an accident, the driver will be held in breach of the duty of care.

If your accident was caused by this type of negligence, you are entitled to recoup compensatory damages for any losses suffered in the crash. Depending on the nature of your losses, you can seek compensation for the medical costs of your injuries, vehicle damage, lost wages, and other non-economic losses.

What is Gross Negligence?

Instead of a simple act of negligence or carelessness, gross negligence is when a person is guilty of willful, malicious, or wanton disregard and recklessness towards others. One of the most common examples of gross negligence in car crashes is drunk driving.

Everyone knows that drinking and driving can endanger lives. When a person still drinks and drives, this constitutes a willful endangerment of lives. Legally, this can be regarded as gross negligence.

Similarly, road rage accidents can be termed as gross negligence. This is because such a crash occurs when another person acts out of deliberate malice and anger. In some cases, speeding way above the speed limit and causing a crash may also be deemed as gross negligence. This is because a driver is expected to understand the hazards of over-speeding.

Proving Gross Negligence

Although gross negligence is quite clear in some accidents, it is not that obvious in many others. This is why if you claim that the at-fault driver was guilty of gross negligence, you may have a harder time proving it. You will typically need the help of an experienced lawyer to ensure that gross negligence is established in your car crash claim. Once it is established, you can also seek punitive damages in addition to all the other types of damages available in a personal injury claim.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages become involved when the willful, wanton, or malicious negligence of a person is established. These damages are meant to serve as a deterrence so that the person guilty of negligence may not commit similar acts in the future.

You can seek punitive damages if the driver who caused your crash is found to be guilty of gross negligence. The amount of punitive damages can often exceed the total amount of the rest of the damages you can recover for your claim.

However, the state of Georgia has a cap in place to limit the maximum amount of money awarded under punitive damages. The maximum limit under state laws is $250,000 under Georgia Code Section 51-12-5.1.

That being said, the state laws specify a number of exceptions to this limit. This means that if any of these exceptions are involved, there is virtually no limit on the maximum amount of punitive damages you can seek. The exceptions include:

  • Product liability claims
  • Personal injury caused by a person who was under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or another illicit substance at the time
  • An injury caused by the deliberate and specific intent of the at-fault person

How Can An Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer Help?

If you have been involved in an accident in Atlanta, GA, we can help you. As noted above, you will have a harder time proving gross negligence in a car crash. Our Atlanta lawyers work with you to bring together the relevant evidence and establish the liability of the at-fault driver. We also seek punitive damages in cases where reckless or wanton negligence is involved. Contact us today to discuss your Atlanta crash claim with our lawyers.