Personal injury cases are based on negligence. Under certain legal circumstances, everyone has a duty of care to uphold when they oversee a business or drive a vehicle. If you breach your duty to act with care, a person’s safety and wellbeing can be jeopardized. If a person’s wanton acts cause another person to become injured, they are at fault for their injuries (“negligent”). They will also be found liable for property damage, medical bills, and other expenses in most cases.
The way this concept is applied to personal injury cases is complicated, even though it may be simple in theory. You must be able to prove that the defendant was negligent in winning a personal injury lawsuit.
If you are planning on pursuing a negligence lawsuit in Georgia, it is crucial to understand the specific negligence laws in Georgia and speak with a qualified attorney about your case. Below you will find more information about negligence and how it applies to personal injury lawsuits.
The Elements of Negligence
All across the United States and in Georgia, there are four elements of negligence. For a negligence claim to be established, the plaintiff’s attorney must demonstrate each element.
Duty refers to the relationship a plaintiff and a defendant have with one another, in terms of negligence cases. They don’t have to know one another, but more often than not, they do. Some relationships include contractors and clients, doctors and patients, or two drivers.
An expected standard of care can still apply, even if there is no relationship between the two parties. For example, drivers are expected to be safe on the road while driving. Similarly, a grocery store manager must provide a safe shopping environment to avoid slips and falls.
Satisfying this element of a negligence case is not that difficult, as you can see. A lawsuit may be considered frivolous if the duty isn’t apparent, which is something you need to bear in mind when filing a personal injury claim.
- Breach of Duty
A breach of duty, by definition, refers to a defendant’s wrongdoing. Failure to act is one of the most common negligence claims. Some examples include a dog owner walking their aggressive pet without a leash, or a shop owner not cleaning up a spill.
A defendant can also be sued for negligence if they were acting inappropriately. For example, people who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not act responsibly, thereby breaching their duty of care to protect other motorists on the road. A supervisor displaying sexual misconduct to employees is another example of inappropriate behavior.
One of the most straightforward elements to explain is causation; however, it is hardest to prove to a jury or a judge in a court of law. A personal injury lawyer would need to prove that the defendant’s actions were a direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Fault is taken into consideration with causation. However, in Georgia, even if a plaintiff is partially to blame for their accident, the law still allows them to recover. We will go into more detail on this specific law in the next section.
Another element of negligence that is simple to establish is injury. Generally, unless a plaintiff is harmed in some way, they will not initiate a lawsuit. Negligence claims are often filed by injured victims of various types of accidents or families on behalf of a deceased loved one. A just cause of action can even be demonstrated if only financial harm or property damage is evident.
The plaintiff will win their lawsuit and receive financial compensation once the above elements have been proven in court.
Comparative Negligence Law in Georgia
Injured victims are sometimes hesitant to take legal action because they worry that their behavior may have contributed to their injuries. They may assume that they are not eligible to file a lawsuit if they could have avoided the accident. Fortunately for the plaintiffs, Georgia allows injured victims to claim compensation even if they are partly at-fault for the accident. Georgia’s negligence law is known as the comparative negligence rule.
Georgia is one of the few states that follows a modified comparative negligence rule. According to Georgia negligence law (O.C.G.A. 51-12-33), damages can be recovered by a plaintiff if they were responsible for less than half of their accident. If a plaintiff is more than 50% at-fault for their injury or accident, they will be ineligible to receive compensation. If you were texting while walking through a grocery store and slipped on a wet floor, the accident could have been avoided if you had paid attention, even if an employee had ample time to clean up the spill. You cannot recover any compensation if your texting while walking puts you more than 50% at fault for the accident.
How Negligence Laws in Georgia Can Affect Your Settlement Amount
The amount of compensation you receive will decrease if you are at fault for any percentage of your accident.
Here’s an example. Let’s say that you were injured in a car accident and demanded $120,000 for damages. The investigation showed that a driver turned left at an intersection in front of you. While the other driver was 75% to blame for the accident, you were 25% to blame because you were speeding. In this instance, you would only be allowed to collect $90,000, according to Georgia’s modified comparative negligence laws. The remaining $30,000 must be made your own since you contributed to 25% of the accident.
To receive the compensation you deserve, you will need an experienced Georgia negligence lawyer who will examine all evidence from your accident. The total amount of money you can collect may be subtracted if the other party blames you for a part or most of the accident.
Get Help From a Georgia Negligence Law Attorney
According to Georgia’s negligence laws, after suffering a personal injury, your compensation could be reduced significantly or eliminated. You need to hire a lawyer who will help you maximize your odds of receiving compensation. Your lawyer can help you build a strong case against the defendant and assist you with gathering the required evidence you’ll need to win your lawsuit.
Insurance companies are aware of Georgia’s modified comparative negligence laws and will try to use them to blame the victim. You will need an attorney who will stand up to the insurance companies and protect your rights.
Contact Our Georgia Negligence Attorneys Today
You will need to have a knowledgeable lawyer if there is evidence of comparative negligence or when liability is contested. Our legal team at The Eichholz Law Firm will provide you with first-hand insights and legal representation to assist you with your personal injury claim.
For a free and confidential review of your case, contact us today.