Auto accidents are a frequent cause of injuries nationwide and they happen
often right here in Georgia. Auto accidents can lead to serious, life-altering
injuries or even death. For this reason it is important that you know
and understand your legal rights. True, the mere thought of pursuing a
personal injury claim may initially be overwhelming. It is a good idea
to hire an experienced personal injury attorney for your case to ensure
all proper procedures are adhered to. The attorneys at
Goldstein & Hayes, PC are consistently ranked in as the top and best personal injury lawyers
in Atlanta. Call our office today for a free consultation.
Negligence Law in Georgia
Many claims for damages arising from an auto accident are settled before
having to go to court. You (“Plaintiff”) still, however, must
demonstrate that the other party (“Defendant”) was at fault
for causing the accident. In legal terms, you must be able to show by
the preponderance of evidence that Defendant was “negligent”
in causing the accident. Negligence in Georgia consists of four key elements.
- First, Plaintiff must show that Defendant owed Plaintiff a duty. It is
common knowledge that a driver on the road owes a duty to other drivers
to drive safely and avoid causing an accident.
- Second, Plaintiff must show that Defendant breached such duty. This is
easy. For example, if Defendant caused an accident, then he breached his
duty of safe driving.
- Third, Plaintiff must show that the breach proximately caused Plaintiff’s
injuries. The accident must be a foreseeable result of the breach; for
example, Defendant’s running the stoplight foreseeably resulted
in causing an accident. If the type of accident was not a foreseeable
result of the breach, then proximate cause is not shown.
- Fourth, lastly, Plaintiff must be able to show damages or injuries. Thus,
Georgia law will not presume damages for negligence cases. For this, you
can show medical bills/records or photos of your damaged car, for example.
Georgia’s Comparative Negligence Law
In Georgia, unlike North Carolina and Washington, D.C., if Plaintiff is
partially at fault he or she may still recover. Yet, Plaintiff must not
be 50% or more at fault. This is called “Comparative Negligence.”
Plaintiff must present evidence that Defendant was more at fault in causing
the accident. If it is determined that Plaintiff was at equal fault or
more in causing the accident, he or she will not recover anything. This
is where hiring an attorney will significantly help. A personal injury
attorney will make sure all relevant persuasive evidence is gathered for
your case. It should also be noted that, though you can win your case
despite being found partially at fault, your recovery will be deduced
per your degree at fault. For instance, if it is found that you were 20%
at fault, recovery is held at $100,000, you will get $80,000 of that (20% of 100).
Statute of Limitations
If settlement discussions fail, you may file your personal injury lawsuit
with the Court. Yet, there is a time limit on how long you have to file
your claim. This is called the “statute of limitations.” In
Georgia, actions for personal injuries generally must be brought within
two years from the time the injuries were incurred. This time limitations should
be strictly adhered to because if you do not file your lawsuit within
this period, you are most likely barred from doing so.