Georgia car accident laws establish legal requirements that must be satisfied in order to determine fault in an automobile, truck or motorcycle crash. The satisfaction of these legal requirements depends on the specific facts surrounding a particular motor vehicle accident. How fault is determined in a car accident relies on many elements.
There are four legal elements described in negligence law that must be satisfied in order for a person to be held at fault in a motor vehicle accident:
- Existence of a duty of care
- Breach of that duty of care
- Breach of duty of care caused the accident and associated injuries and losses
- Actual injuries, damages and losses
Let’s take a look at each of those legal elements in depth.
Duty of care
When a motorist is on the road, that driver has a duty to operate a vehicle in a reasonably safe manner. A driver must use the level of care another similarly situated motorist would use in the same circumstances. A driver’s duty of care commences the moment they get behind the wheel of a car. An example of duty of care is obeying traffic signals.
Breach of duty
In order for a person to be at fault in a car accident, there must be a demonstrable breach in the duty of care. In other words, a driver operates a motor vehicle in a manner that is not consistent with what a similarly situated careful motorist would do under the same general circumstances. An example of breaching a duty of care is running a red light.
Breach of duty caused accident and injuries
The breach of the duty of care must be what legally is known as the “proximate cause” of the accident and associated injuries. In non-legal terms, the breach of the duty of care must be the legal and actual cause of the accident itself. Injuries caused by a breach of a duty of care are seen when a pedestrian is injured as a result of being hit by a motorist that ran a red light.
Actual injuries, damages and losses
The breach of the duty of care and associated accident must result in actual and not speculative injuries, damages and losses. A driver who caused an accident won’t be held responsible for speculative losses (injuries and losses that might happen at some time in the future). An example of actual injuries are the physical damages sustained by a pedestrian hit by a driver that ran a red light.
Facts Supporting Finding Negligence
A determination of negligence in a car accident depends on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding the collision. Some of the more common factual scenarios that support a finding of negligence on the part of a motorist include:
- Failure to follow laws or ordinances (speeding)
- Distracted driving (texting)
- Impaired driving (DUI)
- Driving at a speed unsafe for weather conditions
- Failure to properly maintain vehicle
Can Multiple People Be at Fault in a Motor Vehicle Crash?
Car accident laws recognize that multiple parties can be at fault for causing a motor vehicle crash. As a driver in a car accident case, you can be held partially at fault for causing the crash. Even if you are deemed partially at fault for causing a car accident, you still may be able to recover compensation in a claim or lawsuit. Georgia negligence law utilizes a comparative fault standard. This means that your negligence and that of another driver will be compared against one another to ascertain what, if anything, you will be able to recover in the way of compensation.
For example, if the other driver was deemed 70 percent at fault and you were 30 percent responsible, the amount of an award to you would be reduced by 30 percent because of your contributory negligence.
There is one important caveat in Georgia negligence law. If you are found to be 50 percent or more at fault for causing a car accident, you are not entitled to any compensation.
This caveat is one of many reasons why benefits car accident victims to consult an experienced attorney before agreeing to a settlement. Your attorney can fight to make sure your liability for the crash is reduced, ensuring you are entitled to the maximum possible settlement in your car accident case.
The reality about car accident injury claims and lawsuits is that these are complicated legal matters. The typical person doesn’t have the background necessary to maneuver through the insurance claims process, let alone a civil lawsuit, in the most successful way.
If you’re wondering “How is fault determined in a car accident?”, it’s in your best interest to consult with an experienced Georgia car accident lawyer.
Call Scholle Law today at (866) 592-1296 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.