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If you find yourself in need of an Atlanta personal injury lawyer, Cruz & Associates is here for you. Our Atlanta injury attorneys have more than 25 years of experience handling personal injury claims for our clients. We understand the challenges facing the average person after an accident, and we want to help you maximize your recovery by fully exploring all of your options for legal recourse after a negligent accident. Every year, millions of Americans file personal injury claims to recover compensation for the damages caused by the negligence of others – let Cruz & Associates help you file yours.

Understanding Negligence in Personal Injury Law

The law defines negligence as the failure to meet an acceptable duty of care for a given situation. Depending on the individuals or parties involved, there may be varying degrees of duty of care in play. Some examples of duty of care include:

  • Drivers, who have a duty of care to the other drivers nearby to follow posted traffic signals and obey the rules of the road.
  • Product manufacturers, who have a duty to ensure their products perform as intended and advertised and that they handle defective product reports quickly and effectively.
  • Common carriers, who provide transportation to the public as a paid service. These entities have a higher duty of care than other vehicles. “Common carriers” can include airlines, taxis, bus companies, trains, and subways.
  • Healthcare professionals, who have a duty of care to their patients to provide competent, safe treatment using medically acceptable standards of care.
  • Employers, who have a duty of care to their employees to ensure a safe working environment and to handle known safety concerns in a timely and effective manner.

To succeed in a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff filing the suit must be able to prove the defendant in the case was negligent, and the plaintiff’s damages resulted from that negligence. Proving negligence in a personal injury lawsuit hinges on four criteria:

  • First, the plaintiff must show the court the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care in the situation in question. For example, anyone who gets behind the wheel owes a duty of care to others on the road. When people fail in that duty by driving while intoxicated or while texting, they may be responsible for the injuries such a dereliction of duty might cause.
  • Next, the plaintiff must show how the defendant breached this duty of care. Following the previous example, drunk driving, distracted driving, or failure to follow traffic laws are all breaches of their duty.
  • The plaintiff can only file a lawsuit if he or she suffered injury or sustained some type of measurable economic loss. If there was no damage or injury, there is no case.
  • Finally, the plaintiff must prove his or her damages resulted from the defendant’s negligence and not some other cause.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Atlanta, Georgia

Filling the Complaint

The personal injury lawsuit process begins once a plaintiff files a Complaint to the defendant. A Complaint is essentially a letter stating the plaintiff’s intent to pursue legal action against the defendant. Depending on the situation, the next steps toward a resolution can take many forms. If the defendant knows that he or she is at fault and wishes to avoid a protracted court battle, the defendant may wish to settle the matter outside of court. If the defendant believes the Complaint it exaggerated, unfounded, or illegitimate in any way, the defendant may choose to fight the Complaint in court.

Negotiation and Mediation

If the two sides decide to negotiate a settlement, both sides and their injury attorneys will meet to negotiate a mutually agreeable settlement. If this succeeds, the plaintiff typically accepts the defendant’s settlement offer in exchange for dropping the case. If settlement negotiation proves difficult, the two sides may opt for mediation with a neutral third party acting as mediator. This can help encourage more constructive discussion and reach a settlement more easily. In some cases, arbitration may come into play. Arbitration is a more formal and binding form of mediation and typically only comes into play in legal matters involving businesses.

Litigation and Trial

If a case goes to trial, it can take weeks, months, or even years to reach a conclusion. It’s vital for plaintiffs to weigh the potential case award against the cost of legal fees, filing fees, and court fees for the duration of the trial. Discovery, or the sharing of evidence between the two sides in a legal case, is a lengthy process. Additionally, both sides’ injury attorneys will conduct depositions, or question-and-answer sessions conducted under oath, to build their cases.

Injury Expert Witnesses

Some cases will also require input from experts in various disciplines. Expert witnesses help the jury understand complex subjects in layman’s terms so that they can appreciate the gravity of the situation in question. For example, medical malpractice lawsuits will always require expert witness testimony. If a plaintiff is suing a negligent medical professional, the expert witness can help the jury decide whether or not the defendant’s actions were medically sound.

Know Your Rights in Your Personal Injury Case

Filing a personal injury lawsuit is a major decision, so take time to carefully review your options before settling on a course of action. If you believe your case merits a lawsuit, then contact the attorneys at Cruz & Associates. We offer free case evaluations to new clients, and our attorneys will meet with you at your home, office, or even in the hospital if necessary.

Over the years, we’ve helped our clients in Atlanta recover their medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and compensation for their pain and suffering through personal injury lawsuits. Reach out to our team today so we can let you know how we can help with your case.