Proving negligence is your primary goal in a personal injury case. That means you must demonstrate that another party contributed to an accident in which you suffered injuries or other personal losses. However, it is rarely that simple. Different negligence laws can affect your claim, whether you can recover compensation, and, if so, how much you can recover.
Below, we walk you through how negligence laws in Georgia affect your claim.
Proving Negligence in a Georgia Personal Injury Claim
Demonstrating how another party was at fault is the crucial component of personal injury cases. Doing that requires establishing what actions the other party should have taken. Then you can identify what the at-fault party did that was at odds with this expectation.
In tort law, we must establish the following four elements to prove negligence:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
Duty of Care
As stated above, there are certain ways a reasonable person should behave to ensure safety for themselves and others. This is known as duty of care. Examples of duty of care include:
- Stopping at red lights and stop signs
- Yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks
- Driving at safe speeds
- Sharing the road with bicyclists
- Keeping property safe for visitors
- An owner regularly inspecting his property for potential hazards
Breach of Duty
A breach of duty occurs when someone behaves in a way that a reasonable person would not. This occurs in many ways.
For example, if a pedestrian is jaywalking, that is a breach of duty. But speeding is also a breach of duty. So, if a speeding driver hits a jaywalking pedestrian, both parties would hold some percentage of fault because each breached their duty.
Causation requires you to demonstrate that your injuries, damages, and other financial losses are the direct result of a breach of duty.
Consider the following: a distracted driver rear-ended you while you were waiting for a red light to turn green. The impact caused you to suffer a spinal cord fracture.
You must create a link between the accident and your injury to hold the at-fault party liable for your damages. To do so, we can use your medical records and testimony from your doctor or an expert witness. We can also have an accident reconstruction expert create the accident to show how the force involved could cause those injuries.
You must have suffered damages (e.g., physical, financial, or emotional). For example, if you fall in a grocery store but only suffer a bruise on your leg, you do not have a case. However, if you fall in a grocery store and suffer a broken tailbone that keeps you out of work for three months, you suffered damages.
Examples of Negligence in a Georgia Personal Injury Case
Several actions or inactions can constitute negligence. They might include:
- Running a red light
- Driving while intoxicated or fatigued
- Texting while driving
- Failing to remedy a hazard on your property
- Failing to provide adequate security for a bar
- Forgetting to install lights in a dark parking lot
- Failing to yield to pedestrians
- Refusing to share the road with a cyclist
Modified Comparative Negligence in Georgia
It is rare that one party is entirely at fault for an accident. Modified comparative negligence handles instances when more than one party is at fault for an accident. A percentage represents each party’s contribution to an accident.
The state of Georgia adheres to the modified comparative negligence 50 percent bar rule. This means that you must be less than 50 percent at fault for an accident to recover compensation.
How Modified Comparative Negligence Laws Impact Your Settlement
The percentage of fault in modified comparative negligence laws not only determine your ability to collect a settlement but also how much you can obtain.
A High Percentage of Fault Could Bar You from Recovering Compensation
If you are 50 percent or more at fault for an accident or injury in Georgia, you will not be eligible to recover compensation. For example, say you were walking through a grocery store texting. There was a fairly obvious spill on the ground. While an employee had time to clean up the spill, you could have avoided the spill if you had been paying attention.
An investigation of the accident finds you 55 percent at fault. You cannot recover compensation.
Your Percentage of Fault Will Decrease Your Settlement
Any percentage of fault will decrease the compensation amount to which you are entitled.
For instance, let us say you demanded $120,000 for your car accident injuries. The accident occurred when a driver turned left in front of you at an intersection. The investigation found the other driver was 75 percent at fault. However, because you were speeding, it found you to be 25 percent at fault.
According to Georgia’s modified comparative negligence laws, you would only be able to collect $90,000. The remaining $30,000 represents the 25 percent of the accident your actions contributed to, so you must make up those costs on your own.
This makes hiring an attorney who will pore over every detail and piece of evidence in your accident that much more critical. Everything that the other party can attribute to you subtracts from the total amount you can collect.
An Atlanta Injury Attorney Can Help You Prove Negligence
While negligence laws in Georgia may appear complicated, you do not need to handle everything alone. Work with an injury attorney who is willing to thoroughly explain your options and properly demonstrate the strength of your case.
If you or a loved one suffered injury at the hands of another party, please call S. Burke Law. Our service begins with a free consultation and there is no commitment on your part. You can reach us at 404-842-7838.