(1) “Fault” – that the other driver was “at fault” for causing the collision;
(2) “Causation” – that the auto collision or truck wreck “caused” your claimed injuries; and
(3) “Damages” – that you have suffered damages as a result of your injuries from the auto accident or truck collision.
1. Proving “Fault”This is referred to by lawyers as “negligence.” This means that the other driver was careless, or less careful than a reasonable person. Civil law is built on a pretty simple concept. Everyone has a duty to be reasonably careful. If someone fails to be careful and injures your property or body, they are responsible for the injury.
Keep in mind that a party can be negligent, and there still be no claim. For example, imagine that a driver ran a stop light and almost hit you, but did not. The other driver would be clearly negligent but did not cause you any damage or injury. As a result, you don’t have a case against the negligent party for “almost” hitting you.
2. Proving “Causation”To win an injury case, you must show that the truck wreck or auto collision “caused” your injuries. In other words, your ruptured spinal disc, your broken bone, or your back/neck surgery was caused by the impact or collision in the auto accident or truck wreck.
Causation can be complicated by other injuries. For example, imagine that you are rear-ended in an auto collision and hurt your neck. Then, only 1 month after the auto accident, you fall off a ladder and injure your neck again. You still have a viable claim for your neck injury, but it is now complicated by an intervening incident. It can be hard for the jury to decide what portion of your current pain stems from the negligent act of the defendant and what portion of your current pain stems from the ladder fall.
This equally true if event that occurred before the auto accident. Imagine that 2 years before the rear-end auto collision, you injured your neck when you fell off a ladder. Afterwards, you had neck fusion surgery, and recovered from it after months of physical therapy but still had some ongoing symptoms. This prior neck injury could also complicate your claim. You still are entitled to the pain and suffering associated with an further injury the auto accident did to your neck, but the jury may find it difficult to decide what part of your ongoing claim was “caused” by the auto accident.
3. Proving “Damages”To prevail, the last thing you must prove is that you have suffered damages as a result of your injuries from the auto accident or truck collision. Damages can be “special damages,” which are out of pocket costs like medical bills or lost wages. Damages can also be “general damages,” like pain and suffering. Pain and suffering includes many items of damages, like actual pain, worry, loss of ability to enjoy normal life activities, loss of ability to exercise, loss of range of motion, etc....
Special Damages:Georgia law allows the injured person to seek the entire cost of his or her medical bills associated with the injury from the auto accident, truck wreck or fall, without taking into consideration payments made by youur health insurance company. This is called the “collateral source rule.” The point of this rule is that a careless defendant should not get the benefit for the premiums you paid to protect yourself. In other words, instead of giving the careless driver who injured you a windfall, the law gives the windfall to the innocent, injured party.
General Damages:General damages on the other hand are for your past and future pain and suffering (both mental and physical). General damages are measured by “the enlightened conscious of a jury of your impartial peers.” This type of damage is often the larger part of a recovery, especially when you have a permanent injury that will affect you for the rest of your life. This amount is harder to determine. For example:
• what is it worth to lose a healthy knee?
• what is it worth to not be able to squat down to catch your son’s pitches in your back yard?
• what is it worth to have permanent rods and screws in your back or neck?
• what is it worth to have a titanium rod going from your knee to your hip inside your femur?
• what about the worries that you may need knee or back surgery in the future?