Accidents happen all the time. Some result in serious injuries, some are fatal. We can all be careful and take safety precautions whatever we do, but accidents and any personal injury that may result is not always the fault of the person who gets hurt.
If you are injured in an accident and decide to claim against the person you believe was responsible for your injuries, you (or rather your personal injury law attorney) will have to prove that this person was, in fact, negligent and therefore liable for damages.
Personal Injury Law in Georgia
Personal injury law in the US is not the same in all the states. GA personal injury law follows the legal principle of modified comparative negligence to ascertain liability following accidents. Essentially, the court must decide who was responsible for the accident and if relevant, allocate a percentage of blame to both parties.
There are two variations of the modified comparative rule of law in the US. One states that if a plaintiff (the person injured) is 51 percent or more to blame for an accident he or she cannot claim costs. In other states, including Georgia, a 50 percent bar rule comes into play. This means that as long as the plaintiff is found to be less than 50 percent to blame for the accident, damages may be claimed and awarded, but they will be reduced by whatever percentage the court deems it is his or her fault. Some US states follow the legal doctrine of contributory negligence, and if the plaintiff is found to have contributed by just 1 percent, no damages may be claimed!
The finer details of an accident are seldom cut and dried, even if you believe it was not your fault. For instance, even if the defendant you are blaming for the accident is found to have been negligent, the court might find that you (the plaintiff) could have avoided the consequences of the accident simply by taking “ordinary care”. And if this is the case, the court might opt not to award your damages.
What to Do If You Are Injured in an Accident and it Wasn’t Your Fault
There are many different types of accidents that may have been caused by someone else’s negligence and therefore result in personal injury claims in Georgia. These include car and other vehicle accidents, slips and falls caused by dangerous conditions, dog bites, and defective products. While most workplace accidents are covered by workers’ compensation, sometimes the accident victim will have an acceptable personal injury claim.
If you are injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, to ensure your claim for damages has the best chance of succeeding in terms of GA personal injury law, follow these steps:
- Get medical assistance, either by calling 911, or going to a hospital or to a medical doctor.
- If you are able to, document your injuries with photographs and a written description. Alternatively ask a family member or witness at the scene of the accident to help you do this.
- While still at the scene, get the names and contact details of as many witnesses as possible. Again, get help from someone who has not been injured if you aren’t able to do this yourself.
- Report the accident to the correct authorities. If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident report the accident to the nearest police station. If the accident happened at work or in some other location, report the accident to the manager, supervisor, or the HR department. In addition to your own report, get copies of any other accident reports made, including any police reports.
- As soon as possible, contact a personal injury law attorney. While you are not obliged to consult an attorney, if you plan to make a claim for damages you are going to need one. Your attorney will also be able to help get statements from witnesses.
- Do not sign any statements other than a police report without discussing the documents with your attorney first. For instance, insurance companies sometimes try to force accident victims to sign a release of liability to minimize pay-outs.
If you are in Georgia and need a highly competent and empathetic GA personal injury law attorney to help you when you’ve been in an accident, call the Roswell-based professional Don Turner Legal Team for a free case evaluation. Be safe, not sorry.