Most car accidents involve some form of negligence. Negligence happens when an individual or entity fails to use reasonable care. Using reasonable care means acting in a way that a reasonably prudent person would act under the same circumstances. Negligence is a legal concept that may become complex without the aid of and experienced Atlanta car accident attorney.
An Atlanta car accident lawyer will prove negligence in car accidents through eyewitness testimony, police reports, photographs and sketches of the scene, and expert witness testimony.
To show negligence in court, plaintiffs must prove the four elements of negligence:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to exercise reasonable care
- The defendant breached that duty
- The defendant's breach of that duty caused the accident, and
- The plaintiff suffered personal or property (or both) damage from the accident.
In many cases, the first element is easy to prove. Every driver on the road owes other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians the duty to use reasonable care while driving. However, theories of negligence vary depending on who caused it and what duty they owed the victim. Often, in more complicated car accidents, there may be several theories of negligence involved.
Negligence by another driver
A large number of car accidents occur because of the negligence of one or more driver. As mentioned above, every driver on the road owes other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians the duty to use reasonable care while driving, including obeying all speed and traffic laws. Drivers also have the duty to maintain their car and equipment in proper working condition. Additionally, drivers have the duty to refrain from driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Drivers can breach this duty in a number of ways, from texting while driving to failing to use turn signals. Drivers can breach their duty through their acts, like speeding, talking on the phone, or running a red light; or through their failure to act, including failing to stop at a stop sign or not following traffic laws.
Negligence by the car owner
An individual may be found negligent in a car accident even if they were not present at the accident. If an employee was negligently driving a car owned by their employer, the employer may be found liable for damages if the employee was performing a duty related to his or her job when the accident occurred.
Additionally, Georgia recognizes negligent entrustment claims. A negligent entrustment claim alleges that a vehicle owner was negligent in allowing a person that they knew was incompetent or impaired drive their vehicle. There are several reasons where a person can be found to be incompetent or unfit to drive a vehicle, including someone who is intoxicated, underage, unlicensed, elderly, ill, or has a history of reckless driving.
Negligence by the government
Sometimes accidents can occur, not as a result of any fault on the part of the drivers, but because the local or state government was negligent. State and local governments have the duty to build, maintain, and properly mark roads and highways. Governments can breach those duties by failing to repair dangerous roads or failing to properly mark construction sites or hazards. It is important to know that time limits and procedures for filing suit against state and local governments since they are quite different from suits against an individual.
Negligence by the automobile manufacturer
Some accidents occur as the result of some kind of mechanical failure or design flaw in the vehicle. In some cases, this could point to negligence on the part of the automobile manufacturer. Auto manufacturers have the duty to produce a vehicle that is reasonably safe when properly driven and maintained. Manufacturers breach that duty when they sell a car with defective brakes, airbags, or other equipment.
Negligence can be a complex concept, especially if the accident was serious and there was personal injury or death involved. In these cases, it is always important to seek the advice of an Alpharetta car accident attorney to ensure that valuable evidence is not lost and that all of your rights are preserved.
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