Sustaining injuries in a car crash often causes significant financial loss. If the crash happened due to another person’s or entity’s negligence, you may be able to pursue a lawsuit to recover damages.

Many people have questions about what negligence means in the contex of a car accident. This overview can offer a basic idea; however, in practice, determining whether a specific action was negligent can be a complex process.

Ordinary negligence

Georgia law defines negligence as a failure to use the level of care a normal, reasonable person would use in the same situation. This usually mean a normal, reasonable person with the same level of relevant knowledge as the defendant. For example, a truck driver must adhere to the standards of his or her profession rather than those of someone who just operates a passenger vehicle.

Of course, it is possible to be very careful and have an accident happen anyway. Sometimes, the accident is not anyone’s fault. In other circumstances, the other driver may not be at fault. The negligent party may turn out to be the city that did not maintain the road or the maker of the car part that failed at a crucial moment.

Negligence per se

A driver can act negligently without breaking any laws. If a motorist does break a traffic law, this violation can be negligence per se, leading to a presumption that he or she acted negligently.

Punitive damages

Accidents can also happen due to behavior that goes beyond negligence and crosses into wrongful conduct. In such situations, the crash happens because someone engaged in dangerous behavior that was likely to lead to an accident.

The person who acted wrongfully chose to engage in the behavior knowing it would probably hurt someone. Examples include drunk driving or hit-and-runs. In these cases, the plaintiff may also be able to recover punitive damages, which the law can impose as a deterrent for wrongful or reckless conduct.