What You Need to Know About California’s Gross Negligence Cause of Action

Per California law, gross negligence is a dangerous level of conduct that exposes the defendant to greater liability than ordinary negligence. Here is everything you need to know about gross negligence cause of action in California.
Gross negligence is more serious than ordinary negligence in California but not as serious as recklessness or intentional acts.

Defining Gross Negligence in California

California law defines gross negligence as the lack of any care or an extreme departure from what a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation to prevent harm to oneself or to others. A person can be grossly negligent by acting or by failing to act.
An example of gross negligence might be if a hospital fails to perform their maintenance services, and one of the patients falls when placed on the bed. The bed could have been fixed if the routine maintenance was done, and therefore the hospital might be found grossly negligent per California law.

Related: What is Comparative Negligence?

When Does Gross Negligence Get Applied?

In California, gross negligence claims occur when a statute or a liability waiver prevents a defendant from being sued for negligence. Since people injured by the defendant cannot recover damages for negligence due to the statute or liability waiver, they then try to win a gross negligence claim.

Companies and people who are statutorily prevented from using a release agreement to relieve themselves of liability for gross negligence include (but are not limited to):

  • Airplanes
  • Taxis
  • Public buses
  • Government entities that permit “hazardous recreational activity” (such as swimming) on public property

Related: California Pure Comparative Negligence

People with Red Cross certification who provide CPR at an emergency scene

Companies that provide training and/or facilities for hazardous recreational activities (such as gyms and driving schools)These companies and professionals may be immune from liability for ordinary negligence. However, in matters of public policy, anyone injured by companies or professionals because of such gross conduct can be sued by victims and have to compensate for any damages.

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