Shared Fault in an Auto Accident: Can I Still Pursue a Case?
Yes, you can still receive compensation even if you’re partially responsible for an accident in Georgia. Most states have one of two potential approaches to personal injury cases where more than one party shares liability: comparative negligence or contributory negligence.
The majority of states utilize a pure comparative negligence rule or a modified comparative negligence rule. Georgia uses a modified version of comparative negligence.
In a modified comparative negligence state like Georgia, you can be up to 49 percent responsible for an accident and receive compensation. However, the amount of money a jury awards at trial would be reduced by the injured party’s culpability. If someone were found to be 25 percent responsible for an accident and their injuries, they would only be awarded 75 percent of whatever the jury decided to award.
For example, if a jury awards someone injured in a car accident $100,000 and they were 25 percent responsible, the plaintiff would only receive $75,000.
If you’re more than half responsible, you would not be able to get a personal injury verdict in your favor in Georgia.
A pure comparative negligence rule would allow someone who was primarily at fault – like someone who was 90 percent responsible – to recover damages. However, in that scenario, they would only receive 10 percent of whatever verdict was awarded.
Strict contributory negligence is far less forgiving. In those strict or pure contributory negligence states, if the injured person is considered to share any of the fault, they wouldn’t be awarded any damages at trial.
People in several nearby states do live with contributory negligence laws, including Virginia, North Carolina, and Alabama.
Examples of a Comparative Negligence Case
Maybe Driver A is speeding towards a light that’s about to turn red, and Driver B is making a left turn on yellow in front of Driver A, even though there’s obviously not enough time to make it through the intersection safely. Both drivers may have been doing something wrong, so both could be liable for the accident. What matters is which driver the jury thinks was most responsible.
There’s a good possibility that the case would never get to a trial and would instead settled out of court, but some insurance companies may be less willing to negotiate a settlement if they think the odds favor their driver over the other driver involved.
Premises liability cases, which often involve a lot of variables and hearsay, can also devolve into a finger-pointing blame game.
In order for a plaintiff to win in a slip and fall case, they must prove the property owner or business knew about the danger and didn’t take any steps to fix it or adequately warn people about the hazard.
Maybe a person wearing high heels trips on improperly installed flooring. Did wearing high heels contribute to the fall? The insurance company will undoubtedly argue it did.
What if a person tripped on the floor while carrying a stack of boxes in front of them? The insurance company may argue the injured person was obstructing their own vision.
In both cases, the liability insurer of the property will assert the injuries wouldn’t have occurred had the injured person not made those choices.
Importance of Seeking Legal Advice in Car Accidents
When involved in a car accident, securing the advice of a car accident lawyer is highly recommended. Even if you believe you may be partially at fault for the accident, an attorney can provide valuable counsel about your potential to seek compensation.
Here are some reasons why it’s crucial to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney following an auto accident.
Immediate Assistance Post-Accident
Contacting a personal injury lawyer immediately after an accident can significantly influence the outcome of your case. A lawyer can guide you through critical immediate steps, such as collecting evidence, seeking medical attention, and contacting the other driver’s insurance company.
Dealing with Medical Bills
Medical bills after a car accident can be astronomical, especially if you have sustained severe injuries. A car accident attorney can help you seek compensation to cover these costs, easing the financial burden on you and your family.
Negotiating with Insurance Companies
Many times, the other driver’s insurance company may try to reduce or deny your claim, especially if there’s a dispute about fault. Engaging with a car accident lawyer can provide you with a strong advocate who will negotiate on your behalf, aiming to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
In addition, an attorney can also handle all communications with the insurance company, taking the burden off of you during a difficult time.
In the rare instance that your case does go to trial, having an experienced car accident lawyer on your side is crucial. They will have the knowledge and skills necessary to present a strong argument in court and effectively advocate for your rights.
Will Being Partially Responsible Make My Case Harder to Win?
The simple answer is yes, but it’s not really a simple question.
In many injury cases, it can be argued that both parties share some kind of culpability. It’s difficult to quantify how many injured people in Georgia rely on the modified comparative negligence rule to receive the money they need.
Without comparative negligence, a considerable percentage of people who were mostly blameless for their injuries would receive no compensation for damages caused by some other negligent person or business.
Don’t make being partially responsible your reason for not talking to an Atlanta personal injury lawyer.
Consultations with personal injury attorneys are free, and they can help you understand whether or not you have a case based on the details of your accident or injury. It costs you nothing to learn about your options.
If you have questions about your accident or injury in Georgia, the Dressie Law Firm is always here to answer them. Call 770-203-1215 for your free initial consultation.