How Comparative Fault Laws Work in Georgia Car Accident Cases

Key Points:

  • Comparative negligence is a legal standard applied to accident cases to determine how much responsibility each individual bears for the accident and injuries.
  • 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 may depend on your degree of fault.
  • The best way to understand how Georgia’s comparative negligence law may impact you is to contact an attorney who handles these types of accidents on a regular basis.

Questions Answered:

What is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence is a legal standard that in the State of Georgia is often applied in car accident injury cases to determine how much responsibility each individual bears.  If an accident victim’s actions contributed to his or her own injuries, comparative negligence may affect the amount of money recovered in a personal injury or wrongful death claim or lawsuit.

Why Should You Care About Comparative Negligence?

When a car accident occurs in Georgia, one of the first questions that must be addressed is who caused the accident.  In some collisions more than one driver is at least partly at-fault.  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 may sometimes depend 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.

Examples of situations where comparative negligence may apply include cases where both drivers claim to have had a green light or arrow, who failed to clear an intersection in a timely way, or cases where one driver was speeding and may have contributed to causing the wreck.

The State of Georgia and Comparative Negligence

Under Georgia comparative negligence laws, a person who is injured in a car accident can recover monetary damages as long as a jury determines they are no more than 49% at-fault

Georgia is among the states that apply the standard of comparative negligence.  Georgia actually uses a version of the Rule known as modified comparative fault.  Under Georgia comparative negligence laws, a person who is injured in a car accident can recover monetary damages as long as a Court or jury finds that the person claiming injury was no more than 49% at-fault in causing the collision or other incident.  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.

What Are Some Examples of Comparative Negligence in Car Accident Cases?

John is driving north on Buford Highway in Georgia and prepares to make a left 
turn across the oncoming lanes of traffic

Here’s an example of how Georgia’s comparative negligence standard may apply to a real world situation.

Susan is driving north on Buford Highway in Georgia while John prepares to make a left turn across the oncoming lanes of traffic. John scans the highway for oncoming cars headed north. 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.  John is ticketed for making an improper left turn.

Susan sustains injuries in the collision, has unpaid medical bills and files a lawsuit against John to recover compensation.

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.  Therefore, 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, many states use some form of comparative fault in apportioning fault.

The two major types of comparative fault are:

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.  In this example, however, under Georgia’s modified comparative fault Rule, the victim would not recover anything.

Comparative Negligence vs Strict Contributory Negligence

A few states, including Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina, follow a strict or “pure” contributory negligence standard, meaning 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 – in our opinion – most states no longer use it.

Finding The Best Car Accident Lawyer For Your Case

At The Millar Law Firm  we specialize in car accident cases.  Our knowledgeable Atlanta car accident attorneys will review your case with you over the phone or in person to help determine whether you have a case.  We are ready to review your 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.  Our Atlanta and South Atlanta car accident legal team is ready to help you today.

Article Summary

In Georgia, even if you are partially at fault for an accident, our state’s comparative negligence doctrine may still allow you to collect damages.   A driver who is less than one-half to blame for a collision may be able to win and collect compensation.

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