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 & Lina, LLC 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.