Frequently Asked Questions About
Negligence


 

  1. What is a "negligence" claim?
  2. If one violates the law, are they negligent?
  3. Do I have any rights if I may be partly at fault?  
  4. Can an employer be held liable for the negligence of an employee?
  5. What types of damages may be recovered in a negligence case?
  6. What if I am told by an attorney that I do not have a good case?
  7. What about the costs involved in pursuing a case?
  8. How long will a negligence case take?
  9. How long does one have to file a negligence lawsuit?

 

 

1.  What is a "negligence" claim?
Answer:
"Negligence" is conduct that falls below  the standard of care required by law for the protection of others.  Sometimes this is expresses as failing to do what a reasonable and prudent person would do under the same or similar circumstances.  Generally, in addition to showing that someone owed a duty of care which was not met, one must also show that such negligence proximately caused the claimant's injury and/or damages.  

For example, a driver of a vehicle owes a duty to his/her passengers, other motorists, and pedestrians to use reasonable care in the operation of his/her motor vehicle.  If the driver "runs" the stop sign, he or she would be negligent, but if no harm was done, he or she would not be liable for such negligence.   If, however, in "running" the stop sign  the driver causes a collision with another vehicle, the negligent driver could be held responsible for the injuries and damages sustained by those with whom he or she collided.

Negligence can occur in many circumstances, too numerous to list.  If you believe someone acted negligently which resulted in harm to you, you should consult an attorney to protect and preserve you rights.  While negligence claims can arise in just about any context, certain types of negligence claims are discussed in more detail in this website:

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2.  If one violates the law, are they negligent?
Answer:
Generally speaking, the appropriate standard of care in a given context is established by what a reasonably prudent person would do under the same or similar circumstances.  In certain situations, however, if one violates the law he/she may be considered negligent “per se” if the enactment of such law was intended to prevent the type of injury or harm which was caused by the negligent conduct at issue.   For example, a law requiring motorists to stop at stop signs is intended to prevent collisions at intersections.  If a driver of a vehicle  “runs” a stop sign resulting in a collision which caused injury or damage to another motorist, such violation may well be considered negligence “per se.”   Return to FAQ menu.

 
 
3.  Do I have any rights if I may be partly at fault?
Answer:
Although laws vary from state to state, you may have a negligence claim even if you are partly at fault.  For example, in some states, you may recover damages on a negligence claim as long as you are not found to be more than 50% at fault.    Return to FAQ menu.

 
4.  Can an employer be held liable for the negligence of an employee?
Answer:
An employer can be held liable or responsible for the negligence of an employee if the employee was acting within the course and scope of his/her employment at the time the negligence occurred.  Whether an employee is acting within the course and scope of his/her employment depends upon a number of factors and often requires a complex factual and legal analysis.  Return to FAQ menu.

 
5.  What types of damages may be recovered in a negligence case?
Answer:
This depends upon the type of harm which was caused by the negligence.  Property damages may be recovered if the negligence caused harm to real or personal property.   If the negligence caused injury, one may be able to seek damages for past and future medical expenses, lost wages and/or loss of earning capacity,  mental anguish, pain and suffering, physical disfigurement, and physical and/or mental impairment among others. 
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6.  What if I am told by an attorney that I do not have a good case?
Answer:
Determining whether or not one has a "good case" is not always an exact science.  Because a determination as to whether or not one has a "good case" depends upon the professional judgment (based upon many factors and considerations) of experts and attorneys, it is recommended that one seek a "second opinion" from one or more qualified attorneys if told that one's case is without merit. 
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7.  What about the costs involved in pursuing a case?
Answer:
Some attorneys (including the sponsor of this website) will agree to handle negligence cases on a contingency fee arrangement.  This means that the attorney will not charge an hourly rate for his or her services, but instead will be paid a percentage of the recovery in the event of a settlement or judgment.  In many instances, such attorneys will also pay the case development expenses (such as expert fees, deposition costs, etc.) with the understanding that he or she will recoup such costs only in the event of a recovery.   Thus in many cases, one may be able to secure legal representation without having to pay any attorney's fees or expenses out of one's own pockets. Return to FAQ menu.


8.  How long will a negligence case take?
There is simply no easy answer to this question.  The vast majority of all cases, including negligence cases, are settled prior to trial.  Some cases are settled prior to the filing of a lawsuit, while others are settled during litigation or even on the "steps of the courthouse" just before trial.  A negligence case, if litigated to trial, could last a number of years.  One who pursues a negligence case should understand from the outset that a quick resolution cannot be guaranteed. 
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9.  How long does one have to file a negligence lawsuit?
Answer:
"Statutes of limitation" govern the length of time one has to file a lawsuit or be forever barred from pursuing such claim.  Under Georgia law, different statute of limitations periods apply as to personal injury cases under various circumstances.  In some cases, the statute of limitations may be as short as one year, while under different circumstances, it may be eight years or more.  Many factors bear upon when the applicable statute of limitations period expires including the age of the plaintiff, the type of personal injury claim, the particular facts giving rise to the injury, and others.  One must make absolute certain that they are aware of when their statute of limitations period expires, or risk jeopardizing their legal rights.  An experienced personal injury lawyer can be of assistance in this regard.     

A potential claimant seeking the advice of an attorney should do so without delay. 
  In certain cases, there may also be other deadlines that may also impact the case.  For example, claims against government entities may require that the entity or entities be put on "notice" much earlier than the the statute of limitations period.  Furthermore, given that expert and legal analysis must be done prior to filing a lawsuit, you should not wait until the statute of limitations period is nearing its end because the attorney may not have enough time to complete his or her review prior to its expiration.  

There are other benefits to securing obtaining counsel early on as well.  Memories of the event or events in question tend to fade in witnesses, potential witnesses may later be unavailable because they have moved, become incapacitated, etc.

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