Understanding Negligence in Personal Injury Cases in Georgia

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Unpack the essentials of negligence in personal injury law in Georgia. Learn key elements and what it takes to prove your case.
April 12, 2024

The Role of Negligence in Georgia Personal Injury Cases

In personal injury cases, negligence plays a central role in determining liability and awarding damages. Understanding the basics of negligence in personal injury torts is critical. Knowing the key negligence elements and how negligence lawsuits function can significantly impact the case outcome. 

What is Negligence in Law? 

Carelessness, another word for negligence, often leads to damage or injury when someone fails to exercise reasonable care. This failure results in harm to another party. The negligence meaning is rooted in carelessness or a lack of due diligence in avoiding harm. 

Negligence per se occurs when a violation of a rule, statute, or ordinance defines this type of negligence. Further, there are intentional torts which occur when a defendant purposefully acts negligently to harm the plaintiff. 

Georgia law describes negligence as lacking ordinary diligence. Ordinary diligence is the care that every prudent person takes with their own property of a similar nature. Negligence occurs when someone fails to maintain the level of care that a reasonable person would. Someone must exhibit this lack of care in the same situation. 

Key Negligence Elements in Personal Injury Lawsuits 

To successfully bring a negligence personal injury lawsuit in Georgia, the plaintiff must prove the 4 elements of negligence: 

1. Duty of Care 

The defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty of care under the circumstances. A special relationship, statute, contract, or a general duty can form the basis. This duty is to avoid foreseeable risks of harm to others. For example, drivers have a duty to drive safely and avoid endangering others on the road. 

2. Breach of Duty 

The defendant’s negligence often stems from having failed to act in a way that upholds the duty of care. This failure, known as liability, includes negligent acts or omissions in personal injury cases. A driver texting behind the wheel would breach their duty to drive safely. The standard used is what a reasonably prudent person would do in similar circumstances. 

3. Causation 

The defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the plaintiff’s injury. There must be a causal connection between the defendant’s actions and the resulting harm. For a car accident, this could be the negligent driver running a red light and hitting the plaintiff’s vehicle. 

4. Damages 

Damages occur when an injured person suffers real losses or harm due to the defendant’s negligence. Personal injury damages might range from property damage to medical bills. They can also include lost wages, pain and suffering, or even wrongful death in cases of gross negligence. There needs to be measurable injury or loss that occurred because of the defendant’s careless actions. 

The plaintiff needs to show tangible losses. These losses include the actual money lost from missing work, hospital visit costs, and expenses for repairing damaged property. Providing tangible evidence of the harm is crucial. The plaintiff needs to prove the defendant’s negligence directly caused them real losses. 

Different States Have Different Rules 

In the landscape of negligence law, establishing the four foundational elements is crucial for the plaintiff. However, various defenses are available to defendants, potentially mitigating or nullifying their liability: 

  • Contributory Negligence: Here, the defense argues that the plaintiff’s own negligence contributed to causing the injury. This defense might completely bar the plaintiff from receiving damages if found even slightly responsible for the incident. 
  • Comparative Negligence: This defense implies that both parties may share the fault. It leads to an adjustment in compensation based on the plaintiff’s degree of fault. The precise impact on damage recovery depends on whether the jurisdiction follows a “pure” or “modified” comparative negligence rule. 
  • Assumption of Risk: The defense might argue that the plaintiff knowingly took on inherent risks. The plaintiff, by engaging in a risky activity, voluntarily assumes those risks, thereby absolving the defendant of liability. 

The application of these defenses significantly varies across state laws. States choose between contributory negligence, comparative negligence, pure comparative negligence, or modified comparative fault. For a more in-depth review these standards across different states, check out FindLaw’s recent article

Proving Negligence in Georgia 

Unlike pure comparative negligence states, Georgia is a “modified comparative negligence” state. This means a plaintiff whose own negligence accounts for 50% or more of the incident cannot recover any damages. When at fault for less than 50%, their percentage of fault reduces the damages. 

In negligence and personal injury claims, the cornerstone is proving the defendant’s negligence under tort law. In cases involving car accidents, slips and falls, or dog bites, the plaintiff must establish a clear standard of care. The defendant must have owed a duty, breached it, and directly caused the plaintiff’s injury, resulting in damages. Having an experienced attorney can assist in building a strong negligence action against those responsible. 

Don’t risk your negligence case by handling it alone. Consulting a trusted personal injury lawyer can significantly increase your chances of obtaining full compensation.

Justice Awaits: The Georgia Trial Attorneys Advantage 

Have another person or company’s negligence injured you? That’s where we come in – think of us at Georgia Trial Attorneys as your go-to negligence attorneys. Our job is to make things right.  

We get it, dealing with injuries and the stress of a claim against one of the major insurance companies is a lot. You might worry about paying your medical bills or proving that you weren’t at fault. That’s exactly what we’re here for. Our team knows the ins and outs of getting you what you deserve.  

Don’t try to handle this alone. Give us a call, tell us your story, and let’s figure out how we can help you. It’s that easy. Pick up the phone and CALL 833-4TheWin NOW.  

Let’s get you on the path to getting your life and finances sorted. 

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