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What is Negligence? How do I Prove This in My Case in GA?

Posted in Blog on May 24, 2018

Negligence is the foundation for almost all injury lawsuits. It is a legal doctrine that says if one person owes a duty of care to another person, he or she must uphold that duty or face the consequences. Although negligence won’t always give rise to a personal injury claim, if the negligence caused or contributed to the claimant’s accident and injuries, it is a primary element of a lawsuit. Understanding negligence and how to prove it in the Georgia civil courts is imperative for the success of your claim. An experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney can help you determine if there was negligence involved in your case and the right steps towards fighting for compensation.

Legal Definition of Negligence

A popular definition for negligence is from Law.com and can be defined as “failure to exercise the care toward others which a reasonable or prudent person would do in the circumstances, or taking action which such a reasonable person would not.” The best way to define negligence in terms of a civil claim is by looking at the four main elements required to secure compensation in most claims. Each will be discussed below:

  • The first element is Duty of Care. One person’s duty of care to another person will depend upon the relationship between the two parties. A few examples are: a doctor owes his or her patients a duty to provide adequate medical treatment; a driver owes a duty of care to other drivers not to cause accidents; and a property owner owes a duty to keep a safe premises for visitors.
  • A Breach of a Duty of Care is the second element – the element that deals directly with negligence. Breach of duty is another way to say negligence. A “breach of duty” can describe any act or omission that goes against what the accepted standards of care are according to the situation. It is a breach of duty, for instance, for a driver to operate a vehicle while intoxicated. A breach can describe a violation of legal duty, an act of carelessness, or the intent to harm someone else.
  • The third element is Causation. The plaintiff must show a direct connection between the defendant’s act of negligence and the accident. The act of misconduct must be the proximate, or actual, cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. In other words, the accident would not have happened but for the act of negligence.
  • The fourth and final element is Damages. The plaintiff must have suffered real damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence. Examples of damages can include medical bills, property damage costs, lost wages, and much more.

How Do I Prove Negligence in a Georgia Personal Injury Claim?

As is the case in most states, Georgia law provides a means of damage recovery for accident victims if someone else caused the injuries – as long as it’s filed before the state’s statute of limitations of two years has expires. It is unjust for an injured victim to have to pay for his or her own losses when someone else could (and should) have prevented them. The civil court system exists to provide restitution to injured accident victims and family members of the deceased from the at-fault party. Negligence is the framework for the majority of these cases. Proving negligence, however, can be a difficult task.

Proving negligence is the plaintiff’s burden in a personal injury claim. It is up to the plaintiff to present a case and evidence proving that the defendant “more likely than not” caused the accident and injuries. Note that this is not as heavy a burden as the “beyond a reasonable doubt” requirement in criminal cases. To convince a judge and jury of a defendant’s fault for an accident, a plaintiff may have to re-create the incident, hire experts to testify, show documentation of the accident and injuries, rely on eyewitness accounts, and take other measures.

A personal injury attorney can be a great asset when it comes to proving negligence in a PI claim. A lawyer can take care of accident investigating, eyewitness interviewing, expert hiring, evidence preserving and collecting, case strategy creating, and presenting facts in court on your behalf. With an attorney in your corner, you can significantly improve your odds of proving negligence and securing financial compensation for your injuries after an accident in Georgia. Contact the award-winning team at Butler Wooten & Peak about your case. Call them in Atlanta at (404) 321-1700 or toll-free at (800) 242-2962 for a free consultation today!