A New Jersey personal injury lawsuit may include many different charges and one that may carry particular weight for both parties is that of gross negligence. This accusation may increase the severity of the consequences and cause a greater financial blow as well.
The New Jersey Supreme Court notes that gross negligence differs from other charges and that judges may consider a variety of circumstances and factors before labeling the degree of negligence committed.
Defining gross negligence
Unlike willful negligence, where an individual causes harm on purpose, gross negligence occurs due to several different other reasons. This type of negligence includes several features, including:
- Unintentional serious harm
- A lack of action creates a dangerous situation
- Usually includes reckless behavior
In most cases, it is for the judge to decide whether a personal injury case involves gross negligence.
A judge may award a plaintiff punitive damages, which offers compensation for serious negligence, even if the incident was an accident. For example, if two young people conspire to steal a car, go joyriding, and strike a pedestrian, the plaintiff may request punitive damages because while the driver did not willfully strike a pedestrian, their actions and a lack of care resulted in the injury of another.
Under New Jersey law, punitive damages are more closely connected with willful acts of negligence. The status is usually up to the judge and which statute he or she might apply while reviewing the case.
Gross negligence typically involves a lack of care or action that may have otherwise kept someone safe. While willful and gross negligence acts are usually related, ultimately, the court names the charge.