If someone else hurts you, whether by accident or on purpose, the court may require them to pay for your recovery. This can include costs related to your short- and long-term medical care, emotional damages for pain and suffering, and wages you lost if your injuries required time off work.
Georgia has some unique personal injury laws that dictate when and how you can file a lawsuit to recover compensation. Knowing how these rules apply to your specific circumstances is necessary for building a successful case.
A personal injury is any harm that you physically, emotionally, or mentally sustain because of someone else’s actions. When the court awards you monetary damages for your injuries, they’re trying to help you get your life back to the way it was before you were hurt.
Under most circumstances, you can recover compensation from anyone who hurt you, regardless of how or why the injury happened. Intentional injuries caused by a physical battery, for example, can lead to harm you can sue over.
Accidental injuries may be cause for recovery as well. Negligence is one of the most common bases for a personal injury lawsuit. Negligence arises when an activity, such as driving a car, requires an expected level, or duty, of care but that duty is breached. Using the car example, the duty may be to stop at a red traffic light, and the breach may be running the red traffic light. Injuries caused by negligence aren’t intentional, but the injurer should have known injuries were a possible result of their careless conduct.
Even when a person does try to abide by their duty of care, they may still be responsible for covering costs of an injury they caused. Product liability lawsuits are one such example. If a manufacturer produces a series of safe products, but a defect in some of the the products occurs through no fault of the manufacturer, they could still be responsible for covering costs to an injured consumer. Design flaws that cause all the products to be dangerous can also serve as the foundation for a personal injury lawsuit. Product liability and strict liability cases don’t require the injurer to have acted negligently or recklessly for them to be responsible for injury costs.
The Georgia statute of limitations for personal injury cases imposes a deadline for when you must file your lawsuit. With very few exceptions, you only have two years from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice or general personal injury claims. Waiting too long to file could make it impossible for you to have your day in court, preventing you from recovering any compensation.
Georgia has contributory negligence rules that can limit how much money you’re allowed to recover if your actions helped create the circumstances that lead to your injury. The court will determine how “at fault” you are for your injuries, and will reduce your compensation accordingly. For example, if you’re trying to recover $10,000, but the court thinks you are 10 percent at fault for your injuries, you’ll only be able to recover 90 percent, which is $9,000 in this example, of the total amount sought.
This only applies if you are found to be less than 50 percent responsible for your injuries. If the court finds you responsible by 50 percent or more, you’ll likely be unable to recover any compensation at all.
Fortunately for the injured party, Georgia does not usually have a cap on how much a person can try to recover in a personal injury suit.
There are many components to a successful personal injury lawsuit. Making a mistake in any of your paperwork or the proceedings could limit, or prevent entirely, your ability to recover the amount you’re owed.
Working with an attorney could mean the difference between a strong case that gets you everything you need and a weak case that leaves you vulnerable to compensation reductions. An experienced attorney can help you file documents, put your case together, and present it to the court, making it possible for you to have a better outcome in your case.
Injuries cost money, including time away from work, medical bills, and other complications. Before taking legal action or trying to negotiate a settlement on your own, you should talk to an attorney about your case. You can search LawInfo’s legal directory to find a local personal injury attorney about the merits of your case. This one step can level the playing field, help you protect your rights, and put you in the best position for recovering the compensation that you deserve.