Category: Personal Injury Posted on Jul 20, 2020

What is Willful Negligence?

Willful negligence, also called willful or reckless conduct, is more serious than ordinary negligence in Connecticut.

It involves actions such as where the defendant:

  • Knowingly engaged in reckless conduct, or
  • Intentionally disregarded the risk of harm to others.

However, it is important to understand that the defendant’s actions do not need to have been intentional or malicious to succeed in a willful or reckless case.

If you believe you are the victim of another person’s willful or reckless act of negligence, you should speak with a Connecticut personal injury lawyer today.

Willful Versus Ordinary Negligence

In ordinary negligence cases, individuals who fail to act as a reasonable person would in the same situation and cause harm to another person can be held liable for damages.

Ordinary negligence applies in most personal injury cases, such as:

  • Vehicle accidents, and
  • Slip and fall injuries.

However, willful acts of negligence cases are less common than ordinary negligence cases. In willful negligence or reckless cases, the harm caused by the defendant’s actions is likely to result in serious injury or death. For example, a person who drives while drunk and seriously injures another person may be held liable under a reckless theory. Insurance policies may specifically state that willful or reckless misconduct will not be covered. So your lawyer will discuss with you the benefits and detriment of a claim that might result in the insurance policy not be available to pay the damages.

A Connecticut personal injury lawyer can help you figure out whether your case qualifies as a willful or reckless case.


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In willful negligence also known as reckless cases, plaintiffs can recover punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages, provided they file their claim before the deadline set by the Connecticut personal injury statute of limitations.

Compensatory Damages

In personal injury cases, plaintiffs can receive two types of compensatory damages: economic and non-economic. Compensatory damages are designed to compensate the plaintiff for the value of their injury or loss.


Economic compensatory damages are compensation for concrete economic losses related to the plaintiff’s injury.

Examples include:

  • Medical expenses,
  • Lost wages,
  • Increased living expenses, and
  • Medicine and prescription drugs.

To find out if you can recover economic compensatory damages, speak with a Connecticut personal injury lawyer today.


Non-economic compensatory damages are compensation for intangible harms a person suffers as the result of their injury.

Examples include:

  • Pain and suffering,
  • Loss of enjoyment of life,
  • Mental anguish, and
  • Loss of companionship.

A personal injury attorney can help you determine whether a judge or jury could award you non-economic compensatory damages.

Punitive Damages

The purpose of punitive damages is to punish a defendant for extremely negligent conduct. They are usually available in willful or reckless cases because the defendant’s actions go above and beyond ordinary negligence.

However, Connecticut law limits punitive damages in most cases to cover only the costs of litigation, including attorney fees. Connecticut law also allows for double or triple damages in certain motor vehicle accidents where the person violated certain code provisions “deliberately or with reckless disregard.” Nevertheless, punitive damages awards in Connecticut can be much lower than in other states.

Why Should I Contact a Connecticut Personal Injury Lawyer?

If you’ve suffered an injury as the result of another’s acts, a Connecticut personal injury lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve. Our personal injury attorneys at StangerLaw LLC are dedicated to protecting the legal rights and financial interests of injured victims.

We take on many different types of personal injury cases and have the legal knowledge required to hold a negligent or reckless party responsible for their actions.

Contact us today online or at (860) 561-0651 to schedule your initial consultation.

Bruce Stanger

My litigation experience includes family law, divorce, product liability, construction law, professional negligence, shareholder disputes, legal malpractice, and general commercial litigation.