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What is Gross Negligence?

There are various types of negligence that can affect personal injury claims in North Carolina. In most situations, injury claims revolve around what is considered “ordinary negligence.” However, there are times when gross negligence arises. Here, we want to properly define “gross negligence” as it relates to the outcome of a personal injury case.

Looking at “Ordinary” Negligence

Before going into the definition of gross negligence, we would be remiss if we did not examine what “ordinary” negligence means, particularly when it comes to personal injury claims. Just about every person owes a duty of care to others around them, though this duty of care will look different depending on the situation. For example, a vehicle driver has a duty to drive their vehicle in a manner that is safe for their passengers and for others on the roadway around them. Property owners have a duty to ensure that their premises are safe for those who have a right to be there.

Ordinary negligence revolves around a breach of duty of care that one person owes another that results in injuries or damages. Ordinary negligence is typically not defined as intentional but rather as the careless actions or a failure to act that results in harm to another (ex. failing to clean up spills on a grocery store floor).

Examining Gross Negligence in North Carolina

Gross negligence, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter that can play a significant role in a personal injury claim. According to a definition provided by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell, gross negligence means a “lack of care that demonstrates reckless disregard for the safety or lives of others, which is so great it appears to be a conscious violation of other people’s rights to safety.”

Taking this further and examining North Carolina law specifically, we can see that gross negligence is defined as “wanton conduct done with conscious or reckless disregard for the rights and safety of others” (Yancey v. Lea, 354 N.C. 48 (2001).

Gross negligence goes above and beyond the breach of duty of care that we see in ordinary negligence claims. For example, in a North Carolina vehicle accident case, a person could be found grossly negligent if they operate a vehicle while intoxicated, operate at excessive speed, or engage in street racing. Each of these factors has one thing in common – the person responsible knowingly creates a dangerous situation and disregards the possible outcomes their decisions could have on others.

Working With an Attorney

If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the careless, negligent, or reckless actions of another individual or entity in North Carolina, work with our Raleigh personal injury attorneys today.

When you allow your case to be handled by an attorney who has extensive experience and resources, you will have an advocate by your side. An attorney will thoroughly investigate the facts of the case and work to determine whether the actions of the at-fault party were negligent or grossly negligent. The facts of the case could significantly affect the total compensation awarded. Injury victims should be able to recover compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, various out-of-pocket expenses, property damage expenses, and pain and suffering damages.