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Definition of Gross Negligence

Gross negligence is "an act or omission of an individual which was done maliciously, wantonly, oppressively, or in a completely reckless or callous manner, indifferent to the rights of others and safety of others."

A recent example of gross negligence can be found in the case against Michael Jackson's doctor Dr. Murray. The court argued that Dr. Murray's "deviations from medical standards of care included the doctor leaving his patient alone with propofol and lorazepam nearby" and using propofol to treat Jackson's insomnia. The courts also argued Jackson might have lived if his doctor had called 911 immediately after realizing he was not breathing rather than waiting 20 minutes.

Defendants who are found grossly negligence may have to pay damages which are above compensatory damages (medical expenses, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering). The court may decide to have them also pay punitive damages which are designed to punish and eliminate similar conduct in the future. Punitive damages can often be very high, several times higher than compensatory damages, sometimes running in the millions of dollars.

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