Willful Negligence Legal Definition

What is Willful Negligence?” 

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  • Willful Negligence
Willful Negligence Legal Definition

Attorney Ernest Pribanic talking to a client from his office in White Oak, Pennsylvania. © Pribanic & Pribanic

Willful Negligence legal definition: Willful negligence is defined as conduct that deliberately disregards the health, safety and welfare of another person. When it comes to liability, willful negligence is among the most heinous. Willful negligence typically involves behavior that is:

  • Voluntary
  • Intentional
  • Reckless

If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident and are seeking punitive damages, you will be tasked with proving that the defendant engaged in wanton behavior that rises to the level or willful negligence.

To do that, an injury victim must:

  • Prove the defendant intentionally engaged in the activity that caused the injury
  • Prove the defendant disregarded risks and dangers associated with the accident that caused the injury
  • That the risk taken could result in serious harm or injury

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Willful Negligence and Car Accident Cases

While negligence is the blame for nearly all car accidents, willful negligence is less common. Types of car accidents that involve willful negligence include:

  • Crashes where the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Crashes where the driver was not legally properly licensed
  • Crashes caused by defective cars or car components 

Successfully recovering legal damages in car accidents caused by willful negligence requires more than physical evidence – it could also require expert witness testimony. If you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident, call Pribanic & Pribanic today to discuss how negligence and/or willful misconduct play a role in your case.


Willful Negligence and Medical Malpractice Cases

To successfully recover damages for medical malpractice, an injury victim must be able to prove that the doctor or healthcare provider at the center of the lawsuit failed to exercise the same standard of care that a doctor with similar expertise would in a similar situation. 

In medical malpractice cases, gross negligence is the term used for willful misconduct. It should be noted that gross malpractice is rare in medical malpractice cases. An example of gross, or willful negligence, by a medical provider would be a surgeon who operated while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 


Willful Negligence and Workers’ Compensation Cases

Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation is a no-fault system that pays injured employees wages and medical benefits regardless of who caused the accident. 

However, it should be noted that an employee hurt at work may file a civil lawsuit against his employer if they were willfully negligent. In cases where a workplace injury was caused by the intentional or willfully negligent conduct, punitive damages can be sought – as well as payments for pain and suffering.

In the world of workers’ compensation law, these cases are the exception and not the rule. That’s why it’s so important to enlist the help of a skilled workers’ comp attorney if you believe your injury was caused by willful misconduct on behalf of your employer. 









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