Protecting Your Rights for over 25 Years

Understanding the elements of negligence

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2022 | Personal Injury

If you have been injured in a Georgia motor vehicle accident, there is a good chance that the accident was caused by irresponsible or reckless behavior, often referred to as negligence. If you can prove that another party’s negligence caused your accident, you may file a personal injury lawsuit against them for the chance to recover compensation for your accident-related injuries and damages.

What is negligence?

The legal theory of negligence includes four main elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. Proving all four elements is essential to a successful personal injury lawsuit.


Duty refers to the responsibility a party owes to others. Duties vary for different parties. For a few examples:

  • Motorists have a duty to other motorists, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians to operate their vehicles safely and follow all traffic laws.
  • Employers have a duty to hire competent employees to operate their vehicles within the scope of their employment.
  • Vehicle owners have a duty to only loan their vehicle to licensed individuals who are capable or safely operating a car.


Breaching a duty owed to others is considered negligence. A motorist can breach their duty to others by failing to abide by traffic regulations in their state. Some common forms of driver negligence include:

  • Failure to yield the right-of-way at an intersection
  • Failure to stop at a red light
  • Following too closely behind another vehicle
  • Changing lanes when it is unsafe to do so
  • Driving at an unreasonable rate of speed
  • Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • Driving while distracted

Employers can breach their duty by failing to hire a competent employee, failing to properly train or supervise their employee, or negligently entrusting a company vehicle to an incompetent or unlicensed employee.

Vehicle owners can breach their duty by negligently entrusting their vehicle to the negligent driver.


Simply establishing that a party was negligent is not enough to prove your case. You will also need to prove that the party’s negligent behavior caused the accident in question. There are two types of causation:

  • Direct: The accident would not have occurred but for the party’s negligence.
  • Proximate: The accident was a foreseeable consequence of the party’s negligence.

Both direct and proximate causation must be established to prove the causation element of a negligence claim.


Finally, you will need to prove that you suffered injuries and damages as a result of the collision. You may present:

  • Medical records to establish the severity of your injuries
  • Medical bills to establish the costs of the treatments and procedures you have undergone due to your injuries
  • Pay stubs to establish lost wages for time you have to take off work to recover
  • Expert testimony to further prove how the accident occurred, how your injuries were caused, and the nature and extent of your injuries

Proving negligence is difficult even in the most seemingly cut-and-dry cases. A personal injury attorney in your area can help present your evidence in a convincing way to give you the best chance at recovering damages after your accident.