You might have heard the term comparative negligence before, but what does it mean? Personal injury cases like auto accident cases are often complex, involving many variables. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), motor vehicle crashes are among the leading causes of hospitalizations, ER visits, and injury deaths in Georgia.
If you sustained injuries in a traffic accident caused by a negligent party, Georgia law entitles you to compensation for damages like medical bills, lost earnings, and other losses incurred. However, obtaining fair compensation isn’t a walk in the park. An Atlanta car accident lawyer can help you get the reimbursement you deserve.
When someone is hurt in a car crash or any other type of accident due to another party’s carelessness, fault and liability are crucial legal issues to determine. Keep reading to understand how the state’s comparative negligence laws can affect your case.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence, the failure to exercise ordinary care to avoid causing harm to another, is a common legal basis for personal injury claims.
To win a case based on negligence and collect damages, you and your lawyer will need to prove the following elements:
- Duty of Care: When you have a duty of care, you must take reasonable precautions to ensure that no one else is injured due to your actions. Our legal team will help prove the negligent party owed you a duty of care before your injuries.
- Breach of Duty of Care: You must show that the defendant did not exercise reasonable care and that they had an obligation to exercise such care but failed to do so.
- Causation: If there hadn’t been a breach of the duty of care, you wouldn’t have been hurt.
- Damages: You must prove that you sustained injuries and damages, either physically, mentally, emotionally, or monetarily, because of the breach of duty of care.
When discussing negligence, the duty of care is constantly discussed. One’s responsibility of care for another is conditional on how the injury occurred.
All road users are responsible for obeying traffic signals and stopping at stop signs. At the same time, it may be the responsibility of property owners to remove ice from sidewalks to protect the safety of pedestrians.
How Does Georgia Comparative Negligence Work?
Suppose many vehicles are moving along a highway. Then one driver swerves to avoid colliding with another one that just changed lanes and hits a third car. Who would be at fault for the third driver’s damages?
Georgia negligence law states that fault would be split between the two first drivers. Their degree of responsibility for the other driver’s injuries determines how much they will have to pay.
If one driver is 40% at fault, the driver could only recover 60% of the damages.
What if the Accident Victim is Partially Responsible for the Crash?
Assuming the same collision occurred at night and the third driver had their headlights turned off, the second driver may have veered into the third driver’s lane because they just didn’t see the third car.
When deciding on such cases, courts around the country have varying approaches, depending on the circumstances. However, Georgia follows a modified comparative negligence rule.
Below is an overview of the different comparative negligence rules.
Under contributory negligence, a victim who shares the responsibility fault for an accident is not entitled to financial compensation from other involved parties. Therefore, even if a victim is only 1% at-fault, they’ll receive no compensation.
Pure Comparative Negligence
No matter how much fault the victim had in an accident, they are still entitled to compensation from the other drivers who caused it under the principle of pure comparative negligence. This means that even if the victim were 99% at fault, they would still be entitled to compensation for 1% of their losses.
Modified Comparative Negligence
When determining compensation under the modified comparative negligence standard, the victim’s degree of fault must be below 50%.
The victim’s share of the compensation is then lowered by their level of responsibility for the incident. If the victim were 10% at fault for the accident, they would be entitled to 90% of the damages.
The doctrine of modified comparative negligence is the basis for Georgia’s negligence law. If the victim is found to be 49 percent at fault or less, their losses will be covered by the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
Proving Fault in Georgia Auto Accident Cases
If you were in an accident and believed the other motorist was to blame, how would you prove it? A documented police report is always crucial, and if the matter gets to trial, one of the responding officers may testify about the investigation.
It may also be possible to determine who was at fault for an accident based on video footage, eyewitness accounts, and any remaining physical evidence.
If both drivers are somewhat to blame for the collision, the modified comparative negligence legal doctrine applies in Georgia.
What to Do After a Georgia Car Accident
Your actions immediately after a motor vehicle accident can determine whether you have a solid case for compensation. Follow the steps below to preserve your legal rights:
- Get to safety.
- Seek medical attention immediately.
- Call the authorities. Find out when and how you can get a copy of their written accident report.
- Exchange insurance information and contact information with other involved parties or motorists.
- Whether you or someone else has been hurt, you should take photos of the crash scene, injuries, and the vehicles involved.
- Gather the contact information of any witnesses who saw the crash.
- Call a seasoned Georgia car accident attorney.
The statute of limitations for Georgia personal injury cases is two years from the date of the accident. However, it is best to begin the legal process soon after a crash. Acting swiftly increases your chances of a successful claim.
How a Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
Once you’ve seen a doctor, you should talk to a personal injury attorney. Leverage your free initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Atlanta to evaluate your case. Our team of passionate attorneys at Bethune Law Firm will advise you on the best way forward to ensure you get maximum compensation.
After evaluating your case, our team will investigate the case, gather relevant evidence, interview any potential witnesses, and attempt to settle the case. Your lawyer can take the matter to court if a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached.
Call 1-800-INJURED to speak to one of our dedicated team members and schedule a free consultation to evaluate your case.