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Understanding the legal concept of negligence

Whether you sustained an injury due to falling in a store or getting into a car crash, an essential part of most personal injury claims is proving the defendant's negligence caused you to suffer harm.

Georgia law further defines the elements you need to show in order to support a claim of negligence. It is important to note that the legal definition of negligence can differ from the way people use the word in casual speech. In many cases, acting somewhat carelessly may not rise to the level of making the defendant legally responsible.

Duty of care

To determine whether a person acted negligently, Georgia courts first look at whether he or she had a duty to the plaintiff. The existence and level of a duty of care can vary depending on the specific relationship. For example, a store owner may owe a duty of care to members of the public to maintain reasonably safe premises. A motorist owes everyone else a duty to obey traffic rules and drive with reasonable safety.

Foreseeable harm

The nature of a duty of care can also depend on whether a certain type of harm is foreseeable in the event of a breach. For example, faulty wiring in a public area can foreseeably lead to injury; running a red light can foreseeably lead to a collision.

Breaking the law can indicate negligence

Other indicators of the expected level of care may include applicable laws or regulations as well as industry standards and guidelines. However, even if no such guidelines exist, failure to use ordinary diligence can be negligent.

Connection between the negligence and your injuries

Once you have proved negligence, you still need to show that the negligence caused your injuries. You may recover damages even if you also acted negligently and your negligence contributed to the injuries, as long as you were less negligent than the defendant. Any award will decrease in proportion to your share of the fault.

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