A person commits gross negligence when he or she deliberately acts in a
way that is known, or should be known, to likely cause harm. Gross negligence
is a more serious failure than basic negligence. In the medical field,
the behavior of medical professionals would need to be clearly below the
standards of accepted medical practice with disregard for the well-being
of the patient. An example might be a doctor who leaves a surgical instrument
inside a patient or performs surgery on the wrong organ, limb, or body part.
Gross negligence is often defined in the following ways:
- a deliberate act that is known to likely cause harm
- conduct so reckless it would be obvious to the average person
- conscious and voluntary disregard for the reasonable care of a patient
and actions that caused foreseeable grave injury or harm to the patient
In other words, a person guilty of gross negligence usually knows or should
have known the reckless nature of his conduct.
How to Prove Your Gross Negligence Claim
Even if there is no intent to cause harm, you may still be able to claim
gross negligence if you can prove your injuries were caused by someone
acting unreasonably. This could happen due to a
car accident, slip and fall, legal malpractice, or
To win a gross negligence case, the following four factors must be proven:
- Duty. Once you’ve established a doctor-patient relationship, the doctor
owes you a certain duty of care. This duty is to act as other doctors
would under like circumstances and follow the guidelines for acceptable
medical care. You must prove that the doctor behaved unreasonably or without
an ordinary degree of care.
- Breach: Once the doctor has established this duty of care, he is required to treat
you like any other doctor would in his field and follow procedures and
processes accepted by his peers. A breach in this area could include using
unsanitized medical tools to examine or treat you, thus putting you at
risk. However, a breach of duty must be so outrageous and extreme, it
would be obvious to anyone, including those who do not work in healthcare.
- Injury: Following the breach, you must sustain some type of injury. Maybe you
developed an infection from the tools used to treat you. To prove any
type of negligence, you must prove that these tools caused your infection
- Damages: You must be able to show that you’ve suffered economic or non-economic
damages as a result of your injury. Perhaps your hospital stay or treatment
resulted in significant medical bills, or you had to take time off work
because of the injury.
It is important to consult an attorney promptly if you believe you’ve
been injured due to gross negligence. If you prove gross negligence, you
may receive higher compensation that includes money for punitive damages.
Call us today at 703-721-4233 to discuss your case.