Gross negligence is an extreme act in which someone completely disregards the safety and health of other people. It’s an act that lies outside what is regarded as normal behavior. In a gross negligence situation, a person may fail or forget to perform a duty of care and instead act in a way that is detrimental to the health, safety, and well-being of others. Gross negligence includes elements of maliciousness and recklessness that go beyond acceptable behavior. It is conduct that can result in foreseeable harm if not prevented.
If you’ve been involved in an auto accident that you believe was caused by another person’s gross negligence, get in touch with our auto accident lawyers today. We will help you prove that the other driver’s gross negligence caused your accident. We will also ensure you file for the highest possible financial compensation package that you are entitled to.
Examples of Gross Negligence in Car Accident Lawsuits
- A driver speeding in a place that has heavy pedestrian traffic
- A driver texting while driving
- A driver driving a vehicle with defective brakes
- Drunk driving
Since extreme carelessness or deliberate actions can damage property or result in injuries to others, the compensation offered to the injured party may include punitive damages to punish the defendant.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Also known as exemplary damages, these damages are not meant to compensate the plaintiff for losses incurred in an accident but to punish the defendant for acting maliciously or recklessly. This is done to discourage the defendant from repeating such acts in the future.
What Your Attorney Will Work to Prove to Win Your Punitive Damages Lawsuit
Your lawyer will collect evidence and file a claim that demonstrates that the following elements existed in your negligence case:
- Duty of Care – This is the reasonable standard of care that the defendant should have exercised to prevent you from incurring a loss or experiencing harm. For instance, a driver should not use his/her phone when behind the wheel since his/her duty to others while driving is to pay attention while behind the wheel.
- Breach of Duty – Your lawyer will determine whether the defendant breached his/her duty to you. For instance, a driver can be held liable for breaching his/her duty of keeping an eye on the road and hitting an innocent bystander or another vehicle because he/she was reading a message on his/her phone.
- Factual Causation – Your attorney may also try to prove that the breached duty of care led to loss or harm. For instance, this may involve trying to prove that if the at-fault driver had paid attention to his/her driving instead of his/her phone, you wouldn’t have been injured.
- Proximate Cause – Texting while driving is known to be dangerous; thus, the driver should have known that texting when driving is something they should not do.
- Damages – Your lawyer will work to prove that the harm or loss you suffered requires compensation to help you recover from all damages and harm sustained. These damages include:
- Property damage
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Mental anguish
- Suffering and pain
You may receive a monetary award if you can prove the above elements existed in your personal injury lawsuit.
How Much Is Your Punitive Damages Claim Worth?
The Damages Act in Texas puts a cap on the compensation you can win in punitive damages. Your monetary award cannot be twice the amount of economic-related damages (damages that compensate you for lost income such as that spent on medical expenses). Moreover, non-economic damages cannot exceed $750,000. In short, your claim can be worth twice your settlement damages and an additional $750,000. You can win $200,000 in case the jury deliberating your punitive damages claim doesn’t award you economic damages.
Comparative Fault Laws in Texas
Texas uses a comparative fault standard that is modified to establish negligence and to determine the at-fault party in order to offer monetary awards to victims of accidents. This standard is also referred to as proportionate responsibility, meaning your compensation can be reduced if you played a role that contributed to the accident.
For example, if you’re texting on your phone while driving and get hit by a vehicle that ran a stop sign, the judge may determine that you were 40% responsible for causing the crash. If your overall award is $60,000, it will be reduced by $24,000 or 40%, because that is the proportion that you were responsible for yourself so you are not entitled to that amount from your insurance provider or the at-fault party’s cover.
Texas laws are also governed by the 51% bar rule which means if you’re more than 51% responsible for injuries you sustained, you cannot collect any damages.
You Need a Qualified Auto Accident Lawyer to Win Maximum Compensation
Proving a gross negligence lawsuit is an intensive and complex process. The majority of plaintiffs in Houston only obtain maximum settlements when their case is handled by an experienced legal team.
Our attorneys have handled personal injury cases for many clients and successfully secured punitive damages in lawsuits where the at-fault party was grossly negligent. Get in touch with our lawyers at 713-677-2159 for a free consultation and a thorough evaluation of your case and your legal options.