If a victim is injured by someone who is mentally impaired in Georgia, can that victim recover damages for her personal injuries?
The general rule in Georgia is that a psychotic person cannot be held criminally responsible for his crimes because he is not acting as a free agent and is incapable of a guilty intent. However, in a civil case, if the mentally impaired person cases personal injury to another, proof of intent is generally not necessary. Therefore, the mentally impaired person is liable for torts the same as anyone else, except for torts that require proof of intent.
This rule allows a victim to sue the mentally impaired person for personal injuries caused by negligence. This rule is supported by the principal that where a loss must be borne by one of two innocent persons, it should be borne by the one who occasioned it.
Of course, there is the occasional odd circumstance where the “insanity is not a defense in tort cases except for intentional torts” rule seems to be a little too broad. For example, if a driver is suddenly overcome, without forewarning, by a mental disability or disorder which incapacitates him from conforming his conduct to the standards of a reasonable man under like circumstances, the insanity defense may apply. In one case, Breunig v American Family Ins. Co. (1970) 45 Wis 2d 536, 173 NW2d 619, 49 ALR3d 179, a victim that suffered personal injuries suffered in an automobile accident. The Defendant suffered a mental delusion while she was driving, as she saw a white light on the back of a car ahead and was under the impression that God was holding the steering wheel and directing her car when the accident occurred. The court held that it was a jury question with regard to whether the driver had knowledge of her schizophrenic, paranoid condition and of likelihood of hallucination while driving.