How Comparative Fault Laws Work in a Georgia Car Accident Cases
When a car accident occurs in Atlanta, one of the first questions that must be addressed is who caused the accident. Establishing who was at fault may be complicated. In many multi-car accidents, more than one driver contributes to the accident. In Georgia, you can still seek monetary compensation after an auto accident even if you were partly at fault. How much you may be entitled to receive in damages depends of your degree of fault. Georgia courts use a legal standard known as comparative fault to determine each driver’s share of responsibility for a crash.
If you have been injured in a crash caused by another driver, a knowledgeable Atlanta car accident lawyer at Millar & Mixon can review the details of your accident and discuss your legal options. You may be entitled to seek monetary compensation for your medical bills and other losses even if you were partly at fault or received a citation in the accident. Our initial consultation with a lawyer is free of charge.
What is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence is a legal standard applied to accident cases to determine how much responsibility each individual bears for the accident and injuries. If an accident victim’s actions somehow contributed to his or her own injuries, it may affect the amount of money recovered in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
The State of Georgia and Comparative Negligence
Georgia is among the states that apply the standard of comparative negligence, also known as comparative fault, in personal injury cases. Under Georgia comparative negligence laws, a person who is injured in a car accident can recover monetary damages as long as a jury determines the injured person is 49 percent or less at fault for the accident. If the injured person is found to be 50 percent or more responsible for the accident that caused their own injuries, then the person cannot recover monetary damages.
A skilled personal injury attorney will present evidence to minimize any fault on the part of an injury victim.
What Are Examples of Comparative Negligence?
Here’s an example of how Georgia’s comparative negligence standard applies to a real world situation. John is driving north on Buford Highway and prepares to make a left turn across the oncoming lanes of traffic. John scans the highway for oncoming cars headed south. John sees one oncoming vehicle driven by Susan, but Susan’s car appears to be far enough back from the intersection to allow John to complete the left turn and clear the intersection. As John makes the left turn, he realizes too late that Susan’s car is approaching much faster than he realized. In fact, Susan is speeding and cannot avoid colliding with John’s car, which is in the intersection as she crosses. Susan sustains injuries in the collision, has unpaid medical bills and files a lawsuit against John to recover compensation.
Under Georgia’s comparative negligence system, a court may find that John was 75 percent at fault because he misjudged Susan’s speed, failed to yield to oncoming traffic and collided with another car while making a left turn. But the court may find that Susan also was 25 percent responsible for the accident because she was exceeding the speed limit. Any monetary damages that a jury grants Susan would be reduced by her percentage of fault. If the jury awarded $100,000 in compensation, Susan would be entitled to an award of $75,000.
What Are The Differences Between Comparative Negligence and Other Forms?
States vary in the legal rules they apply to determining fault and eligibility for monetary compensation when more than one person is to blame for an accident. Today, most states use some form of comparative fault in apportioning fault.
The two major types of comparative fault are:
- pure comparative fault
- modified comparative fault.
In states that apply a pure comparative fault standard, an accident victim may be eligible to recover some monetary compensation for injuries even if the accident victim is primarily responsible for causing the accident resulting in his or her injuries. For example, if the accident victim was found to be 95 percent at fault for causing the accident, the victim could still recover damages equal to 5 percent of the jury award.
Many states including Georgia apply a modified comparative fault standard that sets some limit on the percentage of fault that an injury victim may bear and still be eligible to recover damages. For example, some states require that the person who filed the lawsuit and is seeking to recover damages must have a lower percentage of fault than the defendant in the lawsuit.
Comparative Negligence vs Contributory Negligence
A few states, including Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina, follow an outdated strict contributory negligence standard, stating that an injured motorist is barred from collecting any compensation if he or she is even 1 percent at fault for the accident. That standard is very unfriendly to accident victims and fortunately most states no longer use it.
How Do I Know if Comparative Negligence Applies to My Case?
Comparative negligence is complex and each jury that decides a car accident lawsuit will assign fault in that particular case based on the facts presented to them.
The best way to understand how Georgia comparative negligence law would apply to your accident is to talk with an experienced Atlanta accident lawyer. An attorney who has handled many similar accident cases will have a good sense of how your actions leading up to the accident would be interpreted by a jury that is considering the share of fault of each party in a lawsuit.
Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer: Comparative Negligence
At Millar & Mixon, our knowledgeable car accident attorneys are ready to review your Atlanta car accident and assist you in proving that you were not at fault in the accident and that you deserve monetary compensation for all injuries related to the accident. To schedule a free consultation where you can discuss your accident with us in detail, call us or contact an attorney online using our contact form.
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For more information, the team at the Millar and Mixon Law Firm, LLC are here to help. With years of experience helping victims of car accidents get the compensation they deserve, the team of attorneys at Millar and Mixon can help you too. Call today!