In a recent and alarming case, Dr. David Wayne Nelson, a seasoned physician in Hanford, California, has had his surgical license revoked by the California Medical Board due to a distressing instance of gross negligence. The board’s decision stemmed from Dr. Nelson’s unauthorized sterilization surgery on a 31-year-old female patient, an act that blatantly violated the principles of informed consent. What adds a troubling dimension to this case is Dr. Nelson’s refusal to engage with the allegations, leading to the forfeiture of his right to a hearing and the impending revocation of his license.

Kirakosian Law, specializing in personal injury cases and gross negligence, becomes an essential ally for those affected by such disturbing acts. Beyond legal advocacy, Kirakosian Law offers crucial emotional support throughout the challenging journey toward justice. In this blog, we’ll learn what exactly is gross negligence and how a lawyer can help you if you or a loved one have been a victim of it. 

medical gross negligence


What is Gross Negligence?

Gross negligence is a legal concept that refers to a level of negligence that goes beyond ordinary negligence. It involves a reckless or willful disregard for the safety and well-being of others. In the context of medical or surgical procedures, like the case of Hanford physician David Wayne Nelson, gross negligence might entail actions or decisions by a healthcare professional that are so extreme and careless that they constitute a substantial departure from the accepted medical standards of care.

In simpler terms, gross negligence reflects a severe and deliberate failure to provide the level of care and caution that a reasonable person or professional would exercise in similar circumstances. It is often a key factor in legal proceedings, including medical malpractice cases, where victims seek compensation for injuries or harm resulting from such extreme negligence. In many cases, the consequences of gross negligence can be severe, leading to injuries, suffering, and sometimes even loss of life, as it poses a significant threat to the well-being of individuals under the care of professionals like physicians.


Penalties for Gross Negligence

In a regular negligence case, if someone is found to be at fault, they typically have to compensate the injured party for things like medical bills, lost income, or damage to property. However, in cases of gross negligence, the person at fault might have to pay more than what’s usual in regular negligence cases.


Compensatory Damages

Normal negligence claims happen when someone gets hurt or their things get damaged because of an accident. If the injured person decides to take legal action, they usually ask for money from the person or company that caused the accident. This money is meant to cover their injuries or losses, and it’s called compensatory damages because it’s compensating or paying the injured person for what they went through.


Punitive Damages

Apart from compensating the injured person, someone who is very careless or reckless (grossly negligent) may also have to pay what’s called punitive damages. These are not common but are meant to be like a punishment. They’re awarded by a court to make sure that the person being punished won’t do the same careless thing again. It’s a way to show that such behavior is not acceptable.

Think about a situation where a surgeon makes a lot of big mistakes during an operation, and the patient gets seriously hurt or even dies. When they look into it, they find out that the surgeon was either using drugs or alcohol during the surgery or had a history of doing surgeries that turned out really bad. Did you know that there is even compensation for when someone goes through a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the state of California?

In this case, what the surgeon did is considered really careless and reckless, and the court might decide to make them pay punitive damages. These damages are meant to teach not just this surgeon but all doctors and surgeons how important it is to be very careful and do their jobs properly. But, how can someone tell if what they went through is a case of negligence or gross negligence?


The Difference Between Negligence Vs. Gross Negligence

Negligence is when someone doesn’t act as carefully as a reasonable person would in a similar situation. For instance, if you’re driving a car and accidentally run a red light because you didn’t notice it, that’s negligence. You should have stopped at the red light, but you didn’t, and it resulted in a minor accident with another car. Negligence is about not doing what a careful person should do to prevent harm.

Gross negligence is even more serious. It’s when someone acts so carelessly that it seems like they’re intentionally ignoring others’ safety. It’s way beyond what a normal, careful person would do. Imagine you’re not just running a red light but also speeding excessively, texting on your phone, and ignoring all the traffic signals. 

medical gross negligence

This extreme recklessness is an example of gross negligence. It’s much worse than regular negligence because it shows a total disregard for the safety of others and could lead to a severe accident with significant harm or even loss of life.


How Kirakosian Law Can Help You!

As we’ve discussed today, gross negligence is a serious matter, especially in personal injury cases, with potentially significant consequences. If you ever find yourself harmed due to someone else’s recklessness, it’s crucial to seek guidance from legal experts who can navigate this complex terrain effectively.

Enter Kirakosian Law Group! Our team of seasoned professionals possesses an in-depth understanding of personal injury law, including the critical distinctions between ordinary and gross negligence. If you suspect that you’ve been a victim of gross negligence, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We are committed to defending your rights and ensuring that justice prevails, regardless of the scale of the incident.