Gross negligence may consist of operating a motor vehicle at 100 mph in a 50 mph zone. Gross negligence can be seen in operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. A 260 pound football coach picking up a 140 pound player and throwing him to the ground may constitute gross negligence also. In addition, that behavior could also constitute assault and battery.
Grossly negligent acts may in some circumstances serve as a basis for defeating an immunity defense. That is the grossly negligent acts of a government employee may deprive that employee of the immunity accorded to governmental employees in some cases. Grossly negligent acts may also serve a basis for defeating other defenses. For instance a defendant may lose the defense of contributory negligence if his behavior is willful and wanton. That involves a level of misconduct beyond gross negligence. The grossly negligent acts may be the gateway to proving the more culpable behavior of willful and wanton misconduct.
Although the level of negligence should not have any impact on the size of a jury award, the fact is that it does. The more outrageous a defendant’s misconduct then the more likely a jury is to increase the size of the award. Therefore it is always in the interest of the plaintiff to “pile it on” in terms of presenting evidence of the misconduct of the defendant.
For more information about this and related personal injury concepts see the other pages on this site.
For more information about gross negligence see the pages on Wikipedia.