Augusta Premier Personal
Injury Attorneys

Negligence

NegligenceNegligence is a legal term that means something like carelessness. If someone injured you through carelessness, you might have a valid personal injury claim against them. 

Like every other legal concept, of course, it gets a lot more complicated. Negligence claims are perhaps the most common type of personal injury claim, but there is more than one type of negligence.

Ordinary Negligence

Ordinary Negligence

Most negligence lawsuits assert ordinary negligence. To win such a lawsuit, you must prove five facts: (i) duty of care, (ii) breach of duty, (iii) damages, (iv) actual causation, and (v) foreseeability (proximate cause). 

Duty of Care and the ‘Reasonable Person’ Standard

The law demands that every competent adult behave in a manner that respects the right of others to live in peace and reasonable safety. In other words, people have a duty to act as a hypothetical ‘reasonable person’ would act under the same circumstances. 

Drivers, for example, have a duty of care to stop at a red light. Professionals, such as doctors, are subject to a higher duty of care depending on the context.

Breach of Duty

You breach your duty of care when you fail to meet the demands of your duty of care. You can breach a duty of care in two different ways-–act or omission. ‘Act’ means doing something you shouldn’t have done, and ‘omission’ means failing to do something you should have done.

Damages

‘Damages’ are losses for which money is an appropriate remedy. Georgia, like other states, offers three types of damages:

Courts usually do not award punitive damages, even when the victim clearly qualifies for economic and non-economic damages. 

Direct Causation

The defendant must have directly caused the victim’s injuries to bear liability. The “but for” test is often used to satisfy this legal element. For instance, “but for” the defendant running a red light, the car accident would not have occurred.

Proximate Causation

An accident victim cannot recover damages for a freak accident, even if it was the defendant’s fault. The accident must have been foreseeable. The test for foreseeability (proximate cause) is whether a ‘reasonable person’ would have foreseen it, not whether the defendant would have foreseen it.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is a form of professional negligence that a healthcare provider commits. You might sue a doctor, for example, or a hospital if their substandard treatment injured you. You will almost certainly need an expert witness to establish negligence in a medical malpractice case.

Gross Negligence

‘Gross negligence’ is extreme negligence involving the lack of even slight care and conscious indifference to consequences–racing an automobile, for example, or driving the wrong way down a freeway. 

Punitive Damages

Gross negligence can convince a jury to award punitive damages, although they are under no obligation to do so under any circumstances.

Negligence Per Se

Negligence per se is a shortcut to proving negligence. It allows a victim to use a safety statute, ordinance, or mandatory regulation as the standard of care. If you can prove that the defendant violated a safety law, you have established the ‘duty’ and ‘breach’ prongs of a negligence claim.  

You can prove negligence per se even if the police never issued a citation to the defendant.

Modified Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is a legal concept that distributes liability if more than one party is at fault for an accident. Georgia operates a modified comparative negligence system with  50% bar. A party who shares fault, but whose fault was less than 50%, will lose damages in direct proportion to their percentage of fault (20%, for example). A party who is at least 50% at fault will lose 100% of their damages.

Some states, such as Ohio, operate a comparative negligence system with a 51% bar. In other words, to forfeit all of your damages, your percentage of fault must be greater than 50%. This system works the same way as Georgia’s system, except when both parties are 50% at fault. It can get slightly more complicated when more than two parties share fault.

Pure Comparative Negligence 

The ‘pure comparative negligence’ system works just like modified comparative negligence, except that there is no cutoff such as 50% or 51%. Kentucky is an example of a pure comparative negligence state.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence works like modified comparative negligence with a 1% bar. If you were even 1% at fault, you would lose 100% of your damages. The only jurisdictions where this harsh system applies are Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

Slight/Gross Negligence

Under the slight/gross negligence system, you can recover damages only if the other party committed gross negligence and your negligence was no more than ‘slight.’ Only South Dakota follows this system.

The Statute of Limitations

In most cases, you have two years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit in Georgia. There are exceptions, however.

An Augusta Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Prove Your Negligence Claim

No ethical lawyer will offer you an ironclad guarantee of success. What an experienced Augusta personal injury lawyer can offer, however, is a better shot at winning 100% of the compensation you deserve. 

Most personal injury lawyers will charge you nothing for a free initial consultation–and no attorney’s fees, ever, unless you win compensation. If you do win, your lawyer will deduct legal fees and case expenses from your recovery and send you the remainder.

Contact an Augusta personal injury attorney of Nicholson Revell Personal Injury Attorneys at (706) 722-8784 to schedule a free consultation.