Human beings make mistakes all the time. Sometimes when we do, we accidentally hurt others. In the case of car accidents, it often happens that one driver is not totally at fault for the accident. Other drivers often contribute to the accident as well. According to the State of Georgia’s At-Fault Driver statutes, your right to be compensated for your injuries will be directly impacted by the degree to which each driver was negligent.
In this article we will shine some light on this subject of Comparative Fault Negligence by explaining the factor of “fault.” Not only will we demonstrate what that means to you in terms of your accident, we’ll show you how Georgia’s fault-based system of laws work to apportion blame between the parties, if both drivers share some of the blame.
Before we begin, let’s just imagine this scenario. Tim was on his way home from work and in something of a hurry – he was late for a parent-teacher’s conference. Tim blows right through a stop sign and crashes into Gillian who was traveling through the same intersection going the other way. Gillian didn’t have a stop sign, but she was speeding. She ends up with a knee injury and bruises. Tim comes away with nothing but a badly bent-up pickup truck.
- In Georgia, what does the term ‘Modified Comparative Fault’ mean?
- The police say both drivers are partly at fault for the car wreck that hurt me – what now?
- How can I know how to choose an attorney?
In Georgia, what does the term ‘Modified Comparative Fault’ mean?
As the police officers investigate the accident above, they realize that both drivers were technically at fault in this accident. Tim failed to stop when he was required to do so. Gillian was not required to stop but she was travelling at 40 mph, 15 miles per hour faster than the speed limit. (If she had been following the speed limit, she might have avoided the accident, but because of her rate of speed she was unable to stop in time.)
Here’s where the modified comparative fault law comes into play. It goes like this: Georgia law dictates that somebody injured in an accident can claim economic and non-economic damages even when they are found to be partially responsible for causing the accident. However, if a jury determines that you were 50 percent or more at fault for the accident, you will be prohibited from recovering anything. So, in our case, Tim cannot expect Gillian to fix his truck.
The largest fault was Tim’s failure to stop. Gillian’s speeding was a lesser offense. So, it is ultimately determined that Tim is 85 percent at fault and Gillian is 15 percent at fault. Now 15 percent of the total damages Gillian suffered in terms of lost wages, hospital and doctor bills can be deducted by the Jury from their total award.
In this example, Gillian’s damages, including those to her car amount to $40,000. The Jury may reduce the total award by the 15 percent for which it determined Gillian is responsible. Ultimately, the verdict will be against Tim for $34,000.
How can I know how to choose an attorney?
This can be a difficult decision. Do you need an attorney? How can you choose one? We think a couple of factors are especially important.
Having a lawyer who is focused on the personal injury field in law is extremely important. The sort of law an attorney practices is one of the most important factors. If your legal representation doesn’t practice personal injury law all day every day, he or she may not know everything necessary to help you win the largest settlement possible. A divorce lawyer may get you the best deal in terms of sorting our custody and personal property matters, but he or she may not know the finer details of PI (Personal Injury) law.
The other critical component in hiring an attorney to handle your car accident claim is the experience level the lawyer has. The longer he or she has been working in personal injury, the more likely it is that nothing will sneak up and destroy your case. Practice over the years enables an attorney to prepare for the clever tricks insurance company attorneys use to minimize your claim and leaving you holding an unsatisfactory compensation check in the end.
You could and probably should interview several lawyers. This can be done in the free initial case evaluation most PI lawyers offer. This exercise will give you the benefit of knowing how ‘solid’ your case is. It will also help you to see whether or not the law firm has the resources necessary to work your claim to its most positive result. There are many unseen details in the course of generating a settlement and it takes a team of dedicated legal experts to make it happen well.
If you or someone you love has been hurt in an automobile accident, you owe it to yourself to at least discuss the matter with a qualified attorney
At the Millar Law Firm, we offer you an initial consultation at no charge. With our combined years of experience in the personal injury field, we are well positioned to give you the advice you need to make handling your accident claim easier and more effective. For your free case review, call us today at 770-400-0000.