What is Negligence in Georgia Personal Injury Cases?
There are many lawsuits that revolve around the concept of "negligence." Under the law, a person's behavior could be referred to as negligent if they failed to exercise care towards other individuals that a reasonable or prudent person would take under the same circumstances, or when they take an action a reasonable person would not. (Law.com) In personal injury cases, or other forms of "torts," negligence cases make up a large number of the lawsuits involving accidental injuries (as opposed to intentional torts, which involve assault, trespassing, defamation, and others).
In a legal context, making the case for negligence involves showing several "elements." Here is an explanation of each of those elements.
1) The negligent party owed the injured person a duty, or owed a duty to the public
Oftentimes this is fairly obvious- for example, a driver owes a duty to other drivers to drive in a reasonably prudent way. Any driver will have the duty to not speed or swerve their car recklessly on the road. Some duties are more specific, for instance, a doctor will have the duty to his or her patients by reason of his/her doctor-patient relationship.
2) The negligent party did not act as a prudent person would in the given situation
In order to be considered negligence, a person must not have practiced the care a reasonably prudent person would have in the same situation. People are not required to anticipate non-obvious risks. For example, a reasonably prudent driver would know not to switch lanes abruptly without signaling. In the case of some professionals, the standard would be a similarly situated reasonably prudent member of their same profession. For instance, a doctor cannot simply provide the care that a reasonably prudent person with no medical knowledge would provide, but rather must provide the care a reasonably prudent doctor would provide.
3) The damage or injury was caused by the negligent act
The injury that occurred must have been "proximately caused" by the negligence. For example, a if a person is speeding while behind the wheel, resulting in a collision due to failure to stop, traveling too fast would be the proximate cause of the accident.
In cases where a person is found to have been negligent and therefore caused injuries to another person, the negligent person can be held liable. This would mean that the negligent person can be required to pay damages to the person who was injured as a result of the negligence.
The amount of the damages the negligent party will normally consist of medical expenses, lost wages, Pain and Suffering, punitive damages if the defendant's conduct rose to the level of gross negligence, and others.
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