Do you have a case? Find out for FREE

Call: 303-423-1770 or Toll-Free 866-385-3505

We offer in person as well as contactless consultations and document signings. Located in Northglenn Colorado, we proudly serve the North Denver communities. Learn More

Gross Negligence

What is Gross Negligence in Colorado?
…And How to Prove Your Claim

There are many kinds of negligence that you can bring forward in a legal case, contributory, comparative, gross, and vicarious. Today, we’re discussing gross negligence. Gross negligence is one of the common cases our Denver negligence attorneys seek justice for. And in Colorado, gross negligence can lead to a premises liability lawsuit.

In most cases, when you file a personal injury matter with the court, you intend to get damages (monetary compensation) for another party’s negligent actions that caused your injury or illness. In the eyes of the law, negligence must fall under specific guidelines.

In this post, we’re going over:

– What gross negligence is

– How gross negligence differs from regular or ordinary negligence

– How to prove gross negligence

– How to defend yourself in a gross negligence case

What is Gross Negligence?

Gross negligence is legally defined as the deliberate, reckless, and irresponsible disregard for the safety and treatment of others without taking into account other people or property.

With ordinary negligence, actions are taken that put others at risk due to someone failing to provide reasonable care and precautions.

In gross negligence matters, the degree of negligence is superior to that of the other forms of negligence. While the actions the perpetrator takes may not be intentionally harmful, the conduct performed is reckless and irresponsible without taking into account other persons or property.

When Ordinary Negligence Becomes Gross Negligence

The kind of negligence is generally based on the severity of the negligence, the damage caused based on willful, wanton, and reckless action, and the level of consequences delivered. In gross negligence matters, the accuser can sue for punitive or exemplary damages.

Once these conditions have been considered, you may have a legal case to pursue. A good gross negligence attorney will be able to walk you through the process.

Terms to Know

It’s essential to understand specific terms that you may hear, including:

Without gross negligence- a judge may rule that the accused is guilty of negligence; however, it may be lacking gross negligence, which means the party was not acting with disregard for the safety of others

Gross negligence manslaughter- a crime that is committed by someone in an official position who should know that their actions would cause the other’s death; examples include: doctors, nurses, business owners, employees, police guards- in these cases, you must prove that the victim’s care was ignored by the accused

Willful misconduct- conduct by an individual who is intentionally committing a breach of duty; this differs from gross negligence in that those accused of gross negligence don’t intend to breach their duty; it’s a byproduct of their actions (such as driving while drunk and causing an accident)

Punitive damages- damages that exceed usual compensation, intended to punish the accuser

Gross Negligence in the Workplace

Gross negligence in the workplace can occur on both sides: by the employee and by the employer. In either case, the individual must act in a willfully unlawful and harmful manner resulting in another’s injury or loss of property.

It’s important to note that your attorney may advise you to seek other forms of compensation through other means based on your injury and how it occurred, including:

Workers’ compensation insurance paid by the employer dedicated to an employee that’s hurt on the job or becomes sick due to work conditions

Premises liability when a property owner does not maintain their property, jeopardizing the safety of those on the premises and causing injury or illness

Slip and fall accidents if an individual sustained an injury in a fall due to the property manager’s or business owner’s negligence

How to Prove and Win a Gross Negligence Case in Colorado

There are four elements necessary to prove your gross negligence case and recover damages:

1. Duty: the accused had a legal responsibility to protect the victim

2. Breach: the accused did not comply with their duty and acted negligently

3. Causation: the accused’s actions caused the plaintiff harm or injury

4. Damages: the accused has the ability to offer compensation for the harm caused

To win your gross negligence case, you must prove that the at-fault party acted willfully negligent and met all four elements of gross negligence. Generally, the success of your case will come down to whether the accused owed the accuser a duty of care.

If you believe you have a gross negligence case, you should seek professional legal advice as soon as possible. Thoughtful and knowledgeable personal injury attorneys will help you determine the best way to approach your unique matter.

Gross Negligence Penalties

Penalties in gross negligence matters depend upon the amount of damage done and will be itemized accordingly.

Compensatory damages- financial compensation that pays the victim for the quantifiable losses that occurred based on the injury- medical bills, lost wages, property damage, other out-of-pocket expenses

Punitive damages- financial compensation for acts committed that are so egregious they require more than compensatory damages, often serves to further punish the accused

How to Defend Yourself Against Gross Negligence

If you have been accused of gross negligence, a defense attorney must prove that you have not willfully been irresponsible or did not owe another the duty of care.

Possible legal defenses against gross negligence include:

Contributory negligence- when the accuser’s conduct falls below the necessary standard of needing the accused’s protection, and the accuser would have likely avoided injury had the accuser not been negligent

Assumption of risk- when the accuser understands and assumes the risk involved in obviously dangerous activity but engages in the action anyway

Gross Negligence FAQs

Q: How does gross negligence factor into a premises liability claim?

A: You may have a premises liability suit if you sustain an injury due to unsafe or defective conditions on someone’s property. This kind of case is based on the accused’s negligence. To prove your liability case, you must show that the property owner knew or should have known that their property was in an unsafe condition.

If found guilty, the defendant may be charged with gross negligence, depending on the severity of the conditions and the accuser’s level of injury or damage.

Q: What is the burden of proof in a gross negligence case?

A: A plaintiff must prove to the jury beyond a preponderance of evidence, that the defendant is liable for gross negligence.

Q: What are the damage caps a victim can receive?

A: Economic damages are damages that can be calculated, including:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future lost wages and earnings
  • Loss of property
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses

Personal injury damage caps in Colorado:

  • Medical malpractice: $300,000 for non-economic damages, $1,000,000 for total damages
  • Non-economic loss or injury: $613,760 and up to $1,227,530 with convincing evidence
  • Derivative non-economic loss or injury: $613,760
  • Non-economic loss in a wrongful death matter: $571,870
  • Dram Shop Act matter (against eateries and bars that provide alcohol to a person who gets into an accident later): $368,260
  • Solatium damages (emotional harm): $114,370
  • Punitive damages: Can’t be more than the economic damages

If a judge finds you have proven your gross negligence case, you may receive punitive damages based on the fact that the defendant acted deliberately. These damages serve to punish the defendant for their negligence.

Q: What if the plaintiff signed a waiver?

A: If you’ve signed a company’s waiver, you will not be able to sue for negligence; however, you can still sue for gross negligence. If you’ve signed any document freeing a business from liability, contact an attorney to ensure you handle the matter correctly.

Call Our North Denver Gross Negligence Attorneys

Contact us today to learn more, about how we can help you navigate the unpredictable nature of the legal system. Our specialists understand what it takes to get you the justice you’re counting on and the financial compensation you’re entitled to.


At Hull & Zimmerman, P.C., we are honored to help accident victims in their time of need, and take our responsibility as personal injury lawyers incredibly seriously. We know how important it is for victims to secure the full and fair compensation they need following a serious accident, and that is why we take a hands-on, personalized approach to every case we handle.

What Our
Clients Say