I Was Injured. Can I File A Lawsuit Against The Party That Caused My Injury?
In general, when a person is injured as a result of another person's negligence, the injured party may pursue a claim against the party or parties that caused the injuries. You are entitled to compensation for your injuries if it is found that a defendant was negligent and that such negligence was a cause of your injury. Any personal injury case depends on liability, damages, and whether or not you can collect from the negligent party or parties. Georgia has adopted a variation of comparative negligence. Under this doctrine, a claimant's action is barred if he could have avoided the consequences of the defendant's negligence. Otherwise, the claimant's recovery is diminished in proportion to his degree of negligence.
Personal injury law attempts to cover all areas and types of injuries suffered by individuals. Some of the most common areas are automobile accidents, premise liability, medical malpractice, and product liability, among others. Whether or not you are entitled to compensation may depend on the type of accident that caused the injury.
Georgia operates on a "fault" system, which determines liability based on a showing that one party was at fault because of negligence, which caused the accident. In other words, if the other driver is to blame for the accident, you can collect damages, and vice versa. Generally, people who operate motor vehicles must exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. Failure to use reasonable care is the basis for most lawsuits for damages caused by an automobile accident. In these cases, proof of fault is often contested and requires thorough investigation. A driver may also be liable for an accident caused by intentional or reckless conduct. A reckless driver is one who drives unsafely, with willful disregard for the probability that the driving may cause an accident.
The other driver's insurance company is the liability carrier and will pay you, as a victim of the other driver's negligence, for your out of pocket damages and pain and suffering. The mandatory minimum liability coverage in Georgia is $25,000 per person and $30,000 per accident for personal injury, and $25,000 for property damage. If the person who caused your injury has automobile liability insurance, an insurance adjuster will gather the pertinent records including medical records, medical bills, wage loss verification and the like in an effort to verify your damages. The insurance company may make you an offer to settle the claim. You may find the offer acceptable and once you accept it, the claim process is over. If you do not receive an acceptable offer, you can proceed with filing a lawsuit. Be careful when dealing with the other party's insurance company because they may try to rush you into a settlement before you can adequately evaluate the extent of your damages. If you are in an automobile accident with an uninsured driver who is at fault or a driver who does not have enough insurance to cover your damages, the uninsured or underinsured motorist provisions of your own policy will apply if you have purchased such coverage.
If you were injured at someone else's home or at a commercial establishment, the person responsible for the premises may be found liable. This can cover a variety of situations including slip and falls, dog bites, assaults, among others. In Georgia, the duty of a landowner to the injured person varies depending on the status of the person at the time of the injury. A higher standard of care is imposed on a property owner with respect to an invitee than a licensee, and a higher standard with respect to a licensee than a trespasser. For an invitee, the property owner is liable for injuries caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises safe. The owner of the premises is liable to a licensee (including a social guest) only for willful or wanton injury. It is usually willful or wanton not to exercise ordinary care to prevent injuring a licensee who is actually known to be, or is reasonably expected to be, within the range of a dangerous act or condition. The duty of the owner to a trespasser whose presence is not anticipated is not to set up traps for him or injure him willfully or wantonly. There is an exception for trespassing children that says that under certain circumstances, a property owner is liable where he should in the exercise of ordinary care have foreseen that harm would result to a child whose presence he should have anticipated. For recreational land made available for public use without charging admission, the owner has no duty of care to keep the premises safe or to give any warning of a dangerous condition.
It is the duty of an owner to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance of the premises and to warn a visitor of any dangerous conditions that are known, or should be known to him, if the conditions are not likely to be perceived by the visitor. The owner or operator of the property must have notice of the defect or circumstances that caused your injury prior to the injury having occurred. The notice can either be actual notice or implied notice, meaning the owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition given all of the surrounding facts and circumstances. The person liable for your damages is the party in control of the property. That party is responsible for the care, maintenance and inspection of the property. For example, an owner may not be the responsible party if he or she has leased the property to another party who actually has control over the premises.
Product Liability deals with recoveries for personal injury or property damage resulting from the use of a product. An action can be based on negligence, breach of implied or express warranty, or strict liability. A lawsuit can be brought against anyone participating in the chain of manufacture for that product, from the manufacturer, to the designer to the retail store. When a company designs and manufactures a product, they have a responsibility to ensure that anyone exercising reasonable care within the expected parameters of usage expected for the product will not be injured.
Under the newest theory of strict liability, you do not have to prove the manufacturer or designer was negligent. You only have to prove that the product was defective due to faulty design, error in manufacturing, or that the manufacturer did not provide sufficient warning of potential risks or failed to provide adequate instructions. Any lawsuit based on strict liability must be filed within ten years from the date of the first sale of the product. Sellers who are not actually manufacturers cannot be held liable under the strict liability doctrine. Be aware that there are other limits to product liability law such as when the consumer was careless in using the product.
When a health care provider causes injury due to his or her failure to meet the accepted standards of care for that particular field of expertise, you may have a claim for medical malpractice. A claim can be brought against physicians, dentists, nurses, therapists, hospitals, clinics, and pharmacists among others. Some examples of medical malpractice include incorrect diagnosis, failure to treat, improper treatment, delay in treatment, prescription errors, surgical errors, rendition of services without informed consent, etc. Medical malpractice claims are some of the most difficult to prevail in and are quite costly due to the need for qualified expert review and testimony.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.
Additional Personal Injury Articles
- Who Is Responsible When A Person Is Injured?
- How Do I Decide If I Need To Hire An Attorney?
- How Much Will An Attorney Cost?
- How Long Do I Have To Hire An Attorney?
- How Will My Claim Be Processed?
- What Damages Can I Recover?
- How Can I Determine How Much My Claim Is Worth?