What is Negligence?

All personal injury cases are based on the idea of negligence. Under the law, everyone has a standard duty of care to uphold in certain situations, like when driving or running a business. In these situations, how careful or careless you are can significantly affect someone else’s safety and well-being.

In these situations, if someone acts carelessly and someone gets hurt because of it, they are “negligent” or at fault for the injury. Most of the time, they will be responsible for the costs, such as medical bills, damage to property, and other costs associated with the injury.

In theory, this idea is simple, but with how the laws are constructed, it can be complicated. To win a personal injury claim, you must show that the other person was negligent. Four things must be shown to prove negligence:

The Other Party Had a Duty to Act With Care

Depending on the type of case, this legal duty can be set up in many different ways. For example, everyone who drives a car has a duty to drive safely, which is easy to prove in car accident claims. Sometimes a person has a duty because of the specific service they are giving you, like medical care. 

In slip and fall cases, the property owner is responsible for keeping their property safe, both for people who were specifically invited to visit or for people like postal workers that are not invited.

They Did Not Uphold Their Duty

The person must have neglected to do something they should have to keep the situation safe. If a driver breaks the rules of the road, a medical professional doesn’t provide adequate aftercare to a patient after surgery, or a grocery store manager doesn’t clean up spilled milk, they fail to uphold their duty. This proves negligence.

Their Failure to Do Their Duty Caused Your Accident

You have to show that the other person’s negligence caused your accident. Insurance companies will sometimes try to blame the accident on you, even if it wasn’t your fault. A good lawyer will use investigators, witness statements, and physical evidence to prove the facts of your case.

Your Accident Involves Tangible Damages

You can’t be compensated if there aren’t any damages. For example, let’s say you hire a dog sitter, and they let your dog run away because they weren’t paying attention. Even if they were careless, if the dog is found safe a few hours later, there is no “damage” to sue over. In a legal sense, your damages are things that cost you money, keep you from working, or cause significant changes in your life, like a disability.

There are some rare exceptions to these rules. For example, 12 states have “no-fault” laws regarding car accidents. This means car accident claims do not have to show who was at fault. However, Georgia is a fault state, so the usual rules of negligence apply.


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