If you’ve ever wondered how “fault” is established in traffic accidents, keep reading. If you are injured by a negligent driver in Georgia – it can happen to anyone – you’ll need to know how fault is determined in our state in traffic accident cases with injuries.
In personal injury cases arising from accidents with injuries, fault is typically assigned to a driver who was negligent. When a driver’s negligence causes another person’s injury, the negligent driver is deemed at-fault and is considered liable for the victim’s personal injury or injuries.
Negligence is the focus in most accident-related disputes, negotiations, and personal injury trials.
If you are injured by a negligent driver anywhere in the state of Georgia, after you’ve received medical attention – that’s the top priority – your next step is speaking to a personal injury attorney.
HOW CAN A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER HELP YOU?
Your attorney will review the details of the accident and explain your legal rights and options – which might include a personal injury lawsuit.
When you are injured because another driver was at-fault, that driver’s auto insurance company may dispute your personal injury claim, so it’s imperative to have strong evidence of the other driver’s negligence.
To prevail with a personal injury claim and prove that the other driver was negligent in a traffic crash, the injury victim or “plaintiff” must prove that these conditions existed:
1. The other driver (the “defendant”) owed the plaintiff a duty of care to avoid negligence.
2. Instead, the defendant acted negligently, breaching the duty owed to the plaintiff.
3. The defendant’s negligence is the reason for the plaintiff’s personal injury or injuries.
4. The plaintiff’s damages are quantifiable, and justice requires the defendant to pay.
HOW ARE THE “DUTY OF CARE” AND THE “BREACH OF DUTY” DEFINED?
The first issue that must be addressed in a personal injury matter is whether a duty of care was owed to the plaintiff by the defendant. Motorists owe other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians the duty to operate a vehicle safely, responsibly, and with reasonable awareness and caution.
The next issue that must be addressed in a personal injury matter is whether a defendant breached the duty of care by failing to behave as a “reasonably prudent” individual would have behaved in a comparable circumstance.
A defendant will probably be found liable for a plaintiff’s damages if an “average” individual in a comparable circumstance would have behaved differently and not have breached the duty of care.
HOW ARE “CAUSATION” AND “DAMAGES” DEFINED?
The third issue that must be addressed in a personal injury matter is determining whether a defendant’s breach of the duty of care was a direct and actual cause of the victim’s personal injury or injuries.
For example, if a negligent driver crashes into your vehicle, but you walk away uninjured, you have no grounds for a personal injury action.
The final issue that must be addressed is the amount of the damages. Personal injury victims are entitled by law to full compensation for monetary damages like medical bills and lost wages.
The law in Georgia presumes that where there is a physical injury, it is accompanied by pain and suffering, and the law entitles accident victims to compensation for their personal pain and suffering.
Although it’s more difficult to arrive at a dollar figure for pain and suffering damages, Georgia’s courts and personal injury lawyers use standard formulas to determine what monetary amounts constitute fair and just awards in these cases.
WHAT DRIVING BEHAVIORS ARE CONSIDERED NEGLIGENT?
The law in Georgia makes some presumptions about accidents that every motorist in this state needs to understand.
In a rear-end collision, for example, the driver in the rear vehicle is almost always presumed to be at-fault, even if the other vehicle is stopped illegally or improperly, because the law presumes that every motorist should be able to stop a vehicle safely in almost any circumstance.
Similarly, a motorist turning left into oncoming traffic is almost always considered at-fault for a collision with a vehicle crossing the intersection – unless the crossing vehicle was speeding or “running” a red light.
Other driving behaviors that lead to a presumption of negligence include but are not limited to:
1. driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol
2. driving on the left side of the road
3. failing to yield and violating the right-of-way rules
HOW CAN YOU AVOID NEGLIGENT DRIVING?
Every driver in the state of Georgia can reduce the risk of accidents and injuries by following three basic rules:
1. Eliminate the distractions: Don’t eat, read, or groom while you drive. Secure pets in pet carriers and small children in safety seats. Pull safely off the road if you need to consult a GPS device or use a cell phone.
2. Don’t drink and drive: If you’re planning to drink any amount of alcohol, make transportation plans in advance. Identify a designated driver or hire a taxicab, a limo, or a rideshare service like Lyft or Uber. In the Metro Atlanta area, rides-for-hire are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
3. Always drive cautiously: Make certain that nothing impairs your vision. Reduce your speed in construction zones and poor weather conditions. Never drive if you feel sick, dizzy, or fatigued.
If you have been injured in a traffic collision in Georgia, the insurance company may try to avoid its obligation to compensate you fully for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering.
HOW SHOULD YOU DEAL WITH THE AUTO INSURANCE COMPANY?
If you’ve been injured and you need compensation after an accident, after you’ve met your obligation to inform the insurance company that an accident has happened, don’t answer any of the company’s questions, make any statement, or sign any document.
Instead, take your case directly to an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney who will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
Most personal injury claims arising from traffic accidents in Georgia are settled out-of-court, but if no acceptable settlement is offered, a good injury lawyer will take your case to trial and fight aggressively for the maximum amount of available compensation.
In 2015, more than 385,000 traffic crashes were reported in Georgia. That’s more than a hundred collisions every day, so getting into an accident in this state is easy. If you’re injured, you’re going to need legal help.
Get that help at once. It’s your right. If you’ve been injured by a negligent driver in Georgia, put the law to work for you, and get the legal help you need – immediately.