Southern California Gross Negligence Lawyer
Filing a Gross Negligence Claim in California
If you were injured due to someone else’s actions, you may have grounds to seek compensation for your losses. The Southern California gross negligence attorneys at KJT Law Group can help you determine whether gross negligence applies in your case and what legal actions you can take. Call us today at (818) 507-8525 for a free consultation.
How Is Gross Negligence Defined in Southern California?
Gross negligence describes reckless actions that display a conscious disregard for the lives and safety of others. The term does not refer to intentional harm, but it’s more serious than ordinary negligence. Willful, wrongful, and reckless actions can fall under gross negligence when people exhibit a disregard for an acceptable standard of care.
Difference Between Ordinary Negligence and Gross Negligence
The distinction between ordinary negligence and gross negligence is critical when deciding how to proceed with a personal injury claim. Ordinary negligence, simply known as negligence refers to careless actions or mistakes that place others in danger. A key determinant for ordinary negligence is intent. If the responsible party did not intend to cause harm, and they can display that they attempted to avoid harming others, their actions may be considered negligent rather than grossly negligent.
If, however, the responsible party purposely disregarded the health and well-being of others and caused harm to others’ lives and property as a result, they could be guilty of gross negligence. Gross negligence differs from ordinary negligence both in intent and severity. It encompasses careless and thoughtless behavior with no thought for the consequences and no attempt to reduce or mitigate harm to others.
A Southern California gross negligence attorney on our team can help you further understand the differences between negligence and gross negligence, so you can make an informed decision about your next legal steps.
California Statutes That Address Gross Negligence
Some California statutes that address gross negligence include:
- California Civil Code § 1714 addresses negligence, including definitions, examples, and guidelines for filing a claim against the negligent party. It holds that anyone who commits a negligent act is responsible for the result of those acts, including injuries to other people and their property.
- California Penal Code § 191.5(a) outlines the terms for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. In this case, gross negligence applies when a driver knowingly and unlawfully drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol and kills another human being without malicious intent.
- California Codes CIV § 2772-2784.5 indicate that indemnification clauses in certain contracts, agreements, and releases of liability do not apply if the at-fault party is guilty of negligence, gross negligence, or willful misconduct.
- California Codes CIV § 3333-3343.7 states that individuals who are harmed by the actions of others, including through negligent or grossly negligent behaviors, can seek damages for the losses they sustained as a result. This section of California law is the basis for the majority of civil personal injury claims.
- California Civil Code § 846 limits the liability of property owners to maintain a safe premises, particularly for facilities and properties used for recreational purposes. This could prevent an injury victim from pursuing compensation for normal liability. However, the statute specifically excludes liability for willful or malicious failure to warn of dangerous conditions, which could be considered gross negligence.
Examples of Gross Negligence in California Case Law
Since the difference between gross negligence and negligence usually depends on interpretation and the specifics of the case, our gross negligence lawyer in Los Angeles may turn to case law. Some prior cases of gross negligence in California include:
- People v. Trzupek (2012): The defendant was found guilty of gross vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated, and gross negligence after killing the driver of another vehicle and injuring the passenger while driving under the influence of alcohol.
- People v. Thompson (2000): The defendant was found guilty of gross vehicular manslaughter after driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. While driving, the defendant crossed the center line into oncoming traffic and subsequently lost control of the vehicle. The resulting accident killed the other person in the defendant’s vehicle.
- Mayall v. U.S. Water Polo, Inc. (2018): A minor child sustained a concussion while playing in a water polo tournament organized and managed by U.S. Water Polo. The defendant did not take action to remove the child from play or provide her with medical assistance after the concussion. After returning to play, the minor was struck several more times in the head. She suffered debilitating neurological symptoms as a result of her injuries. The defendant was found guilty of gross negligence because they did not establish a concussion protocol and they failed to take action to protect the victim’s health.
- People v. Arenas (2010): The defendant was found guilty of gross negligence after threatening his girlfriend and her sister-in-law with a firearm and discharging that firearm at a Shakey’s Pizza Parlor restaurant.
Additional Causes of Gross Negligence Claims in Southern California
Other cases of gross negligence may include:
- Medical malpractice
- Car or truck accidents
- Rideshare accidents
- Bicycle and pedestrian accidents
- Construction accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Recreational and sports accidents
- Airplane, bus, and other passenger vehicle accidents
- Accidents on public property
- Emergency response errors
While the responsible parties in the above cases could be immune from ordinary negligence liability due to a waiver of liability, contractual indemnification, or other agreement, they are not necessarily immune from charges of gross negligence. If an injury stems from extreme carelessness on the part of the at-fault party, the injured party could still charge them with gross negligence.
A Release of Liability Can Affect Your Southern California Gross Negligence Case
In California, negligence law covers a wide range of careless actions, but negligence laws may not always apply. If the injury victim signed a waiver of responsibility absolving the at-fault party of liability or if other California statutes prevent the injury victim from suing for negligence, they may still be able to pursue legal recourse through a gross negligence suit.
A Release of Liability must meet certain requirements to be valid. Specifically, the California Court of Appeal stated in Hohe v. San Diego Unified School District (1990) that “A valid release must be simple enough for a layperson to understand and additionally give notice of its import.”
As such, Release of Liability waivers do not necessarily release the signatories of all liability in the event of accident or injury. You must consider prior case law and the specific wording of the release or contract when deciding whether a Release of Liability is valid for a particular case. In addition, such a waiver could apply to ordinary negligence but not gross negligence.
How Insurance Companies View Gross Negligence Claims
When you file a claim for gross negligence, the at-fault party’s insurance company may not cover your claim. While certain acts of negligence might be covered, policies often include a waiver of coverage for acts of gross negligence. In addition, insurance companies may not cover exemplary damages or damages beyond the compensatory damages for economic and non-economic losses.
A Los Angeles personal injury attorney from KJT Law Group can build your claim, file the insurance claim, conduct negotiations, and file a lawsuit against the at-fault party for gross negligence. Our legal team knows how to defend your legal rights both in negotiations and in the courtroom.
Our Southern California Gross Negligence Attorney at Our Firm Can Help
If you or a loved one was injured due to someone else’s severely careless or wrongful actions, you may be able to seek compensation for your losses through a gross negligence claim. Contact KJT Law Group at (818) 507-8525 to discuss your legal options during a free consultation.
Our Southern California personal injury lawyers can help you understand the complex legalities of a gross negligence claim and determine the best way for you to recover damages for your injuries.
If you or someone you love was injured due to someone else’s actions, contact KJT Law Group at (818) 507-8525 for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.
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