What Are the Comparative Negligence Laws for Georgia?
When you are injured in a car accident, you suffer a variety of damages from financial damages such as lost wages and medical bills to non-economic damages for your physical pain and emotional suffering. If you are not responsible for the crash, you can seek compensation for these damages from the other driver or another responsible third party. However, you must establish that the other driver or party was negligent in some manner and that negligence was the cause of the accident.
For example, a driver who is speeding, texting, or drunk would be negligent if he or she caused an accident because of these actions. Anyone injured in the accident should be entitled to receive compensation for their damages from the driver or the driver’s insurance company.
However, determining who is at fault for the crash can be difficult in some cases. Let’s assume that you are making a left-hand turn into a busy street and a speeding driver collides with you. Who is at fault — you for turning left in front of the driver or the driver for speeding down a busy street? In situations like this, the theory of comparative negligence may apply.
What is Georgia’s Law Regarding Negligence?
Georgia has adopted a modified comparative negligence standard whereby an accident victim can recover compensation from the other part provided the victim is less than 50 percent at fault for the collision. In other words, you can be partially responsible for a car accident and still recover compensation if you are not more than 50 percent at fault.
Let’s use our example from above. You are turning left into traffic, and you check both ways, and nothing is coming. You proceed to pull out into the road when virtually out of now where a vehicle comes speeding around a curve and collides with your vehicle. It is obvious from the physical evidence at the accident scene and eyewitness testimony that the other driver was exceeding the posted speed limit for the area.
You file a claim with the other driver’s insurance carrier, and it is denied because the company claims you are responsible for the collision. You decided to file a car accident lawsuit and let a jury decide.
At the trial, the jury decides that both drivers are partially at fault for the collision. The jury then assigns a percentage of fault to each driver. As long as your percentage of fault is below one-half, you recover compensation for your injuries, and the other driver receives nothing.
Reducing Compensation for a Car Accident Claim
If you are assigned a percentage of fault for a car accident claim, you are not entitled to receive full compensation for your injuries. Your total recovery is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you. For example, if your total damages are $100,000 and the jury assigns 40 percent of the fault to you, you will only receive $60,000 as a settlement for your claim (your total damages of $100,000 less 40 percent or $40,000).
Because of Georgia’s comparative negligence laws, it is very important that you fight to prove the other driver was 100 percent at fault for the collision. In addition to eyewitness testimony and evidence from the accident scene, you may need to hire expert witnesses, such as an accident reconstructionist, to prove you did not contribute to the cause of the collision. Proving you were completely innocent is the only way to receive full compensation for your damages in a Georgia car accident claim.