Negligence and Car Accidents: Assessing Liability in the Event of an Accident
Negligence is the crux of most car accident cases. In the event of a car accident, in order to obtain compensation, you must establish the other driver is at fault for the accident that caused your injuries. Many people who have been involved in a car accident lack a full understanding of the term negligence and what it means to their accident case.
This article will discuss a general summary of negligence as it is defined under Georgia law, and how it is applied to personal injuries. Other states may apply the law differently than Georgia and you should not act on this article without seeking the advice of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.
The following is a look at negligence under Georgia law, what it means, and how it is established:
What is negligence?
The Georgia Code defines negligence as the failure to exercise the degree of care of an ordinarily prudent individual under same or similar circumstances. In a Georgia car accident case, the driver at-fault for the accident can be held accountable if the conduct that caused the accident is deemed negligent.
What is a duty of care?
Every driver in Georgia and across the United States has a duty to operate a motor vehicle in a manner that is not harmful to other drivers and property. For instance, a reasonably prudent driver would stop for all stop signs or lights and maintain a safe following distance. A reasonably prudent driver would also not act in a manner so as to potentially cause injury to another, such as driving intoxicated or failing to pay attention. The duty of care extends to nearly all basic safety rules in driving, such as obeying traffic laws, traffic signs, speed limits, using turn signals, etc.
Determining Negligent Conduct
To determine whether a driver was negligent, you will need to consider whether, under the circumstances, the individual's conduct was consistent with how a reasonably prudent person would have acted. Courts will usually look to the totality of the circumstances in making a determination of negligence.
For instance, review the following car accident scenario: Tom was driving to work as he did every morning. It was raining, so he turned on his headlights and slowed his speed to about 40 miles per hour, as did most other cars on the highway. As he exited the roadway, he suddenly ran into the back of a pickup truck driven by Ben, who did not have his headlights or tail lights turned on. Ben and his two passengers were injured in the accident. They sued Tom, claiming he was negligent for following too closely.
Most rear-end accidents will involve negligence on the part of the following vehicle. However, in this scenario, negligence on the part of Tom is not so clear. Tom had on his lights and was traveling at a reasonable speed. He did not see the pickup truck's lights, indicating they were not likely on. The court in this case would need to consider whether Tom acted as a reasonably prudent person would have under the circumstances. It seems possible in this case that Tom would not be found negligent given the totality of the circumstances.
Most car accidents will require a similarly thorough analysis of negligence. Your attorney will prove vital in assessing the accident and assisting in a determination of fault.
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