Let’s say you’re going for a very serious emergency surgery at the hospital. Consider there’s a surgeon there who seems “just not into” his job very much, but against better judgment, you let it slide. You wake up in recovery and go about your normal life for a few weeks until something doesn’t seem right. You become ill. Upon further inspection, it is found that the surgeon closed the wound with a medical sponge inside of you. This would be a case known as gross negligence. Gross negligence is, in a nutshell, the failure to exercise even the slightest amount of care, and involves complete disregard for another person’s safety.
Some other examples of gross negligence include a doctor amputating the wrong limb of a patient, a driver speeding in a parking lot with pedestrians around, and a caregiver neglecting to give an elderly person food or water for days. There may be very few defenses that the defendant could use to protect themselves in a case. However, there are some. These include intoxication, self-defense, or defense of property.
What Are Punitive Damages and How Do They Apply?
Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant and are not technically meant to compensate a plaintiff for a specific loss. However, in the end, the plaintiff is the one who receives the punitive damages from the defendant. A finding of punitive damages requires intentional misconduct or gross negligence. If this applies to your case, then you are in luck!
So let’s reconsider a situation in which a surgeon recklessly leaves a medical object inside you during your surgery. You will most likely to awarded damages to compensate you for the damages caused by whatever injury sprouted from the misconduct. You would also have a good claim because those in the same line of duty would have upheld their standard of care to make sure that didn’t occur. You could argue that the defendant should be punished to deter other people from going through the same thing at his or her hands.
However, there are limitations on punitive damages that you should be aware of. In some states, like Florida, there are “caps” on damage awards. In this state specifically any some others, a punitive damage award cannot exceed three times the amount of the award of compensatory damages or $500,000 (whichever is higher). If you believe there may be caps in your state, check with an attorney.
There must also be a reasonable basis for an injured person to seek punitive damages. When you file for a personal injury lawsuit, you must make sure that there is evidence. When there is limited or even no evidence of misconduct, a court will be able to levy monetary sanctions on the injured person and his or her attorney for seeking the damages. Courts require a reasonable basis to discourage frivolous claims for punitive damages in personal injury cases.
If you believe you have a case involving gross negligence, you will want to speak to a personal injury lawyer about your claim and how they failed to uphold their duties. They will be able to address any issues surrounding your claim for gross negligence. These claims will generally need immediate attention due to the severity of the losses involved in them. Call an attorney that you can trust today.Contact WTW for all your needs!