“Negligence” is the legal basis for most personal injury cases. Under Georgia law, negligence is a type of tort that involves a person’s failure to exercise a required duty of care, resulting in injury to another person. When the injury occurs as the result of a vehicle crash, your legal basis for filing a lawsuit and claiming compensation is usually the negligence, or “failure to use ordinary care,” of the other driver.
Drivers have a duty to be reasonably careful not to cause car wrecks or injure other drivers, passengers or pedestrians. When another driver fails to live up to that duty and hurts you, you have the right to a financial recovery for the damages you suffered.
What kind of negligent action qualifies as the failure to use ordinary care? Some examples are when the driver is driving faster than the speed limit, not stopping at a red light, failing to use lights when driving at night, or failing to stop for a pedestrian. The two most-common violations in car crash cases are “following too closely,” which is usually the cause of a rear-end collision, and the “basic rules” violation of driving too fast for conditions.
The most commonly raised defense in a car crash case is the claim that the injured driver was to some degree at fault for the crash. Where the negligence of the injured party contributes to the injury, depending on the jurisdiction that “contributory negligence” can reduce the amount the injured person may recover, or even bar recovery altogether. In jurisdictions with a pure contributory negligence law—Alabama, District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia—the injured party cannot collect damages when his or her negligent actions played any role in causing the crash.
In Georgia, as in other “modified comparative negligence” jurisdictions, a plaintiff can recover from a defendant so long as the plaintiff’s negligence was less than that of the defendant. So, where there is one plaintiff and one defendant and the plaintiff is found to be 49 percent or less at fault for his or her own injuries, the plaintiff can still recover, with the recovery reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to the plaintiff. In cases with significant damages, the question of comparative negligence can be very high-stakes – after all, the difference between an allocation of 49 percent and 50 percent fault to the plaintiff is the difference between recovering more than half of your damages and recovering none at all.
Ken Crosson is the owner and lead attorney of the Crosson Law Group, a personal injury and business litigation law firm in Marietta, Georgia, serving the entire Atlanta metropolitan area and surrounding counties. The Crosson Law Group team is ready to help you and your family recover when you have suffered a serious injury. Call (678) 909-0770 or contact us via email today to schedule a free case evaluation.