Understanding the Liability Decision in Personal Injury Cases

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Dive into the complexities of the liability decision in personal injury cases with The Dressie Law Firm. Learn how these decisions are made and how they can impact your claim.

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The Liability Decision: Determining Fault in Personal Injury Cases

When a person is injured in an accident in Georgia, they have the right to claim compensation from the other party or parties involved by filing an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit.

In such cases, the court or insurance company must determine liability between the parties involved before deciding who should compensate the injured party, how much compensation the injured party should receive, or whether compensation should be paid at all.

The liability decision is therefore the linchpin of personal injury cases. If you’ve suffered personal injury due to the actions of another, it is important that you understand how that decision is reached to help you present your case appropriately.

At The Dressie Law Firm, we understand the significance of the liability decision on your personal injury claim. Our experienced personal injury lawyers are fully prepared to help you understand your rights and options and guide you as you work toward a favorable decision.

    Please read on to learn more.

    Why Is the Liability Decision Important?

    A person who is injured in an accident has the right to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the person they consider responsible, seeking compensation for their 

    • Medical expenses
    • Lost wages
    • Future medical bills
    • Pain and suffering
    • Other financial losses due to the accident.

    However, compensation in Georgia is not automatic. Rather, it is based on the established fault or liability of the other party (defendant). 

    If the other party is found to be completely at fault, the victim will be entitled to full financial compensation. However, if they are not liable, the victim would need to seek compensation from other sources.

    Sometimes, the fault or liability may be shared between the parties (including the victim) if it is shown that they both contributed somehow to the accident. In such cases, the court or insurance company, after considering the facts and surrounding evidence, would apportion a percentage of fault between the parties depending on the extent of each party’s contribution.

    Once fault has been apportioned, different rules across the various U.S. states determine what happens to the victim and their compensation claim.

    Some states follow the principle of contributory negligence. In such states, the victim does not get compensation if they contributed to their injuries or accident by even one percent.

    Fortunately, Georgia is not a contributory negligence state. The state practices a different principle called modified comparative negligence that allows a personal injury claimant to still be able to recover compensation even if they were partly at fault. However, there are conditions attached to the claimant’s ability to recover compensation:

    • They must be less than 50 percent at fault. If the percentage of fault is above this threshold, they would not be entitled to any compensation.
    • Even if the victim is eligible for compensation because their fault is less than 50 percent, the amount of compensation they can get is limited by their degree of fault. 

    The following example illustrates these two conditions.

    A and B were involved in a car accident. A sustained significant injuries because B crashed into their vehicle. However, while determining fault, it was discovered that A ran a red light, which is why B crashed into their car. As a result, A, who is supposed to be the victim, is apportioned 50 percent Liability. In that case, A cannot get compensation from B following Georgia’s comparative negligence rule.

    But if, considering the circumstances, A’s liability is pegged at 30 percent while B’s is at 70 percent, A can receive compensation from B to the extent of B’s liability only. That means if the total amount of A’s claim is $100,000, they are only entitled to $70.000, equivalent to B’s 70 percent liability.

    The preceding paragraphs make it clear that the liability decision in personal injury cases is fundamental to the injured party’s claim. If you hope to get the compensation you deserve, you must do all you lawfully can to steer the decision in your favor.

      How Is Liability Determined in Personal Injury Cases?

      Negligence is the primary legal standard used to determine personal injury liability.

      A party is said to be negligent if they fail to exercise a level of care deemed to be reasonably prudent in the circumstances.

       This means that 

      • They had a duty of care or an obligation to do or refrain from doing the act that led to the accident.
      • They failed in that duty
      • Their failure caused the victim’s injuries
      • The victim suffered harm as a direct consequence of their actions or inactions.

      The victim seeking compensation based on the other party’s negligence must establish these elements for their claim to succeed.

      However, the law sometimes allows for legal deviations that either eliminate the need to establish negligence or allow someone other than the negligent party to be held liable. The primary legal principles that allow for such scenarios are known as strict liability and vicarious liability, respectively.

      What Is Strict Liability?

      Strict liability is a legal concept that allows a person to be held responsible for the damage or jury of another whether or not they were negligent. The principle applies in instances specifically defined by law.

      For example, under Georgia law, product liability cases involving defective products are classified as strict liability cases. 

      By the strict liability doctrine, a person can sue the manufacturer or seller of a product that causes them injury without having to establish negligence. 

      All the injured party has to do in such cases is to prove that the product in question caused their injuries. Once the injured party can establish this fact, the liability decision in such cases is clear, and the defendant would be required to compensate the victim. 

      What Is Vicarious Liability?

       Sometimes, liability may be attributed to someone other than the negligent party because of the supervisory relationship between the third party and the at-fault party. This is known as the doctrine of vicarious liability.

      The most common example of vicarious liability is between an employer and an employee. For example, if an employee causes damage to a third party in the course of their job, vicarious liability may allow the employer to be held liable for the injury instead of the employee.

      Understanding this principle and when it applies is important for anyone pursuing a personal injury claim so they’ll know where to direct their claim.

      The Role of Evidence in Liability Decisions

      Evidence serves as the cornerstone of liability decisions. With insurance claims, insurance adjusters are known to conduct thorough investigations and collect evidence that includes police reports and witness statements to piece the probable chain of events together before determining liability.

      This principle also applies to personal injury lawsuits. In such cases, the parties must present solid evidence to support their position. The court will consider the evidence and the surrounding facts before deciding on the parties’ liability.

      As the injured party in a personal injury case, you have the most to lose if your claim fails. So, it is your job to collect relevant evidence that supports your compensation claim and present it before the judge or insurance adjuster. The more compelling your evidence, the higher your chances of a favorable liability decision.

      The type of evidence you’ll need to succeed depends on the specifics of your case but could include

      • Police reports
      • Eye witness testimony
      • Photographs
      • CCTV recordings and images
      • Medical reports.

      Putting the relevant documents together before you begin your case is important to increase your chances of a positive outcome.

      How We Can Help

      Identifying and collecting the evidence needed to support your case could be challenging. But instead of leaving things to chance, consider getting help from a skilled personal injury attorney. Our personal injury attorneys handle cases like yours daily and can help you identify and gather the evidence required to build a solid case.

      We understand the significance of the liability decision, and with our extensive personal injury experience, we can help steer your case toward a favorable decision so you can get the compensation you deserve.

      Even if you’ve already received an adverse liability decision, all hope may not be lost. There are legal pathways you could explore to challenge the decision. We can help you explore those options and work to ensure you get a fair settlement.

      Contact Us Today

      The outcome of your personal injury claim and your compensation depends on the liability decision. 

      Getting a positive decision requires that you understand the associated legal principles and meticulously gather evidence to support your claim.

      Our personal injury attorneys at The Dressie Law Firm know what it takes to build a compelling case to increase your chances of a positive liability decision. So, if you are ready to begin the personal injury claims process, do not hesitate to contact us. Let us help you take the first steps toward getting you the compensation you deserve.

      The Dressie Law Firm Can Help You

      If you or a loved one is a victim of a reckless or negligent driver, we want you to know that the law is on your side and so is the Dressie Law Firm.

      Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!