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The state of Georgia follows a comparative negligence doctrine if you are injured in an auto collision. This means that if you are partially at fault for the crash, you will likely be able to collect monetary damages. However, if you are more than 50% at fault, the judge or jury may find you entirely responsible for your injuries and not award any compensation. To understand this further, let’s first understand what comparative negligence is:
Comparative negligence, also called modified negligence, is a legal standard that states that if two people are involved in an accident, each will bear proportionate responsibility for the damages. Under comparative negligence, an injured party cannot recover for any loss attributed to her negligence. This legal standard prevents a lawsuit from turning into a blame game while ensuring that each party is responsible for her actions.
The hold-out rule in Georgia provides that a person may still seek financial compensation after an automobile accident even if their negligence contributed to the circumstances of the collision. If you were partially at fault for the crash, the amount of damages you may be entitled to receive might be reduced. Understanding how a comparative fault law affects a personal injury claim can be a highly complex undertaking. If you have been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another party, contact an experienced personal injury attorney for additional information on filing your claim.
How can you Determine Liability?
If you’re involved in a crash and believe that the other driver might be at fault, the police report and witness statements might help you prove it. Physical evidence and photos can also play a key role in determining fault. But what if both drivers were partially to blame? In modified comparative negligence states like Georgia, this means you could be entitled to partial compensation as long as the amount is less than 50 percent of the total collision damages.
This means that if the crash occurred partly because of something you did wrong, then your injuries can be lessened by considering the amount of harm caused by the other person’s negligence. For example, if you are judged to be 40% at fault for an accident, your compensation might only include 60% of your economic losses and none of your noneconomic losses.
Comparative Negligence vs. Strict Contributory Negligence
Contributory negligence is a legal doctrine that bars a victim from recovering damages from an at-fault party in a lawsuit. In essence, if you’re even 1 percent at fault for your injury, you’re barred from recovering from the person who caused the injury. Most states no longer use contributory negligence as their guiding legal principle, but some states do. Therefore, we recommend reading up your state’s laws regarding contributory negligence before filing a claim.
In some states, hybrid negligence applies. That means that an injured party may collect compensation only if the other driver is more than 50% at fault for the accident. Thus, if your contributions to causing the accident were near 50-50 with the other driver’s, you would not be able to recover compensation. You’d have to prove that the other driver was over 50% responsible for the collision in a hybrid state.
In a somewhat more contributory negligence-friendly system such as Georgia, the contributory negligence standard states that a victim’s compensation claim is reduced in proportion to their degree of fault. This standard treats people as equal under the law but still gives a little leeway to those who could have acted to avoid an accident.
An example of Modified Negligence in Georgia
John and Susan barreled past one another as they made left turns across the oncoming traffic at the corner of Buford Highway and Spring Street. Each believed that the other would allow them to complete their left turn, but they were wrong. They both applied their brakes, but John’s car slammed into the passenger side door of Susan’s car almost head-on.
Susan also realizes that John has started to turn left from the southbound lane. In an attempt to avoid a collision, Susan swings her car to the right in a motion that will take her across the northbound lane and into the right shoulder. After he has begun his left turn, John realizes that he will hit Susan’s car and make no attempt to turn further or stop his vehicle. This leaves Susan no other option than to return her vehicle onto the highway and collide with John’s vehicle.
Susan sustains significant injuries and is unable to return to work for an extended period. She’s filed suit against John Doe to recover compensation for physical and financial damages.
A Georgia court may find John 80% responsible for the accident. Because of his poor judgment, John has a higher degree of responsibility for causing the accident than Susan. However, her evidence still shows that he was not entirely responsible for the accident. But the judge may find that Susan is only partially responsible for the accident because she was speeding. After a jury decides how much a victim should be compensated, a judge will reduce this amount to account for any fault by Susan.
What should you do After the Accident?
After an accident, you must seek medical attention immediately. Avoid any strenuous activity. If you suddenly feel short of breath or weak, sit or lie down right away. The last thing you want to do is freak out and make matters worse. Call 911 and report the incident. Stay at the scene of the crash until police arrive. It is also crucial that you obtain all witnesses’ names and contact information at the scene. This will help your attorney when they attempt to reconstruct the accident in court. Exchange your insurance details with other motorists and take photos of the accident site and damage to your vehicle.
You must file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. In most cases, you will be expected to contact your insurer within a timeframe prescribed by your policy. Insurance representatives from the other party’s company might contact you for details regarding the accident. It’s essential not to make any statements or accept any form of compensation until you contact your attorney. Your injuries may take time to show, making it difficult to assess them right away correctly. Let your injury lawyer guide you through the claims process once your medical practitioners thoroughly evaluate your injuries.
How can you Limit Liability in an Accident?
Because Georgia is a modified comparative fault state, you will have to address contributing factors of your injury as part of the settlement process. If you have been injured in Atlanta from a car accident, don’t hesitate to speak with an attorney from the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm. Our knowledgeable attorneys have the experience to gather evidence and build a strong compensation case. An attorney can help you stand up for your rights against insurance companies.
An insurance company can use several defenses to limit its liability for an accident. For example, the insurance company may structure your settlement offer, so you must agree to a certain “permissible percentage” of fault for the other driver to receive the total settlement. This could require you to admit that your negligence contributed in some way to the accident, even if it was just 1% or 2% of the total blame. By comparison, your attorney can help present evidence and show how much fault should be attributed to each party.
Seek Professional Legal Help
A modified comparative negligence system is different. In this system, even if you are partly at fault, as long as your actions did not cause the accident by themselves (i.e., as long as the other driver was still more at fault), then your recovery is not affected. If both of you were speeding and failed to stop in time, the court will decide which of you might be more at fault. If you are involved in an accident, it is crucial to understand what defenses might be available. If you do not understand the law, you could end up accepting a settlement that is far lower than the sum you deserve.
If you’re looking for more information about Georgia’s new comparative negligence laws, contact our Atlanta injury and accident attorneys at the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm. We can explain the ins and outs to you so that you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’re getting the best advice. To schedule your appointment, please complete our online contact form or call us today at (833) 254-2923.