You have rights if you’re hurt in an accident that wasn’t your fault.
You may be entitled to recover compensation for your losses under Georgia personal injury laws, referred to in legal terminology as the “tort” system.
But what is tort system law and the legal principles behind it? A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can provide specific details, but an overview may be helpful.
What is the Tort System?
As mentioned, the tort system is the basis of personal injury lawsuits. Officially, the term means “wrongdoing,” such as by the party who caused the accident in which you were injured.
Tort law covers how you can hold that person or entity accountable for your losses. In most cases, you’ll need to prove four essential elements:
- You need to establish that the wrongdoer had a duty to exercise reasonable caution in acting, so as to not cause a risk of harm to others;
- You must show that the responsible party breached this duty through an act or failure to act;
- You’re required to prove causation, which means a direct link between the breach of duty and the accident which caused your injuries; and,
- You need to prove that you suffered losses after getting hurt.
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Three Types of Torts
The exact nature of the elements mentioned above depends upon the specific tort, i.e., the kind of conduct that caused your injuries. There are three types of torts in Georgia personal injury law.
1. Intentional Torts: When a person acts willfully in causing your injuries, the tort is considered intentional. Generally, intentional torts are crimes because the actions are prohibited by Georgia’s criminal statutes. The state can arrest and prosecute the individual who hurt you, and potentially get a conviction for the offense. However, this doesn’t compensate you for the losses you sustain from being hurt.
Tort law provides you with a legal remedy, so you can sue the person in a personal injury case and obtain monetary damages. Some examples of intentional torts include:
- Assault and battery
- Aggravated forms of assault and battery
- False imprisonment
- Domestic violence
- Rape and other sex crimes
- Many other offenses that cause bodily harm
2. Torts Caused by Negligence: If the responsible party caused an accident by engaging in careless or reckless conduct, the tort is one based upon negligence. Most personal injury cases proceed under the legal principles of negligence. The actor didn’t mean to hurt you, but you were injured because he or she failed in their legal duty to exercise reasonable caution.
One of the most common negligent torts is motor vehicle accidents. When motorists don’t drive safely, they can cause a car, truck, or motorcycle crash. Many acts may constitute negligence in operating a vehicle, such as:
- Drunk driving
- Failure to yield
- Improper lane changes
- Distracted driving like texting, using a cell phone, or interacting with a GPS while driving
- Many other dangerous types of conduct
In addition, other negligent torts for which you may be entitled to compensation include:
- Slip and fall incidents and other accidents caused by hazardous conditions on property
- Dog bites and animal attacks
- Negligence in hiring or providing security
- Medical malpractice
3. Strict Liability Torts: There are some personal injury cases that aren’t based upon intentional or negligence tort theories. Strict liability applies if you’re hurt in an accident and the law holds the responsible party accountable without showing all four elements described above. All you need to show is that the incident occurred, and you were injured as a result.
The most common scenario for applying strict liability principles is products liability. You have rights if a dangerous, defective product caused bodily harm, just as in a negligent or intentional tort case.
However, you don’t need to show that the manufacturer acted willfully or carelessly in putting the product on the market.
Discuss Torts and Your Rights with an Experienced Personal
Though this overview of the tort system may be helpful, you’ll still need a skilled personal injury lawyer to represent you. Many of these cases start by filing a claim with an insurance company, which can be complicated.
Insurers are notoriously stingy and will fight your claim at every opportunity. Plus, if you can’t reach an agreement to resolve your claim, you’ll need to go to court to recover compensation.
To learn more about your rights, please contact Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C. to set up a free consultation. You can reach our Athens office by calling 706-354-4000 or going online to schedule your appointment.