A Complete Guide to Georgia’s Comparative Negligence Law
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Comparative Negligence Law in Georgia
If you have been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, such as in a car accident, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation.
However, before you can do so, you must prove the other party’s liability and negligence. Every state follows a specific approach to determining liability in personal injury cases, mainly contributory and comparative negligence approaches. Georgia follows the modified comparative negligence rule, where the involved parties can recover damages if they are less than half at fault for the accident.
Our accident attorneys at Tadeo & Silva Law have extensive experience handling personal injury claims and lawsuits. They are readily available to assist you in recovering the compensation you deserve. Do not hesitate to reach out to us today!
What Is Georgia’s Comparative Negligence Law?
Comparative law in Georgia falls under Georgia Code, Title 51 (Torts), which covers Georgia negligence laws. Georgia uses modified comparative fault to determine who is liable and to what degree in a personal injury accident.
Under this rule, a person injured in an accident can receive monetary damages when the court or jury finds that they were no more than 49 percent at fault. However, their compensation is reduced by their percentage of fault. It differs from pure comparative negligence, where a plaintiff can still receive compensation even if they are at 99 percent fault.
Should the court or jury find the victim to be 50 percent or more responsible for the accident, they cannot recover any monetary damages.
In cases where there are multiple parties, Georgia law dictates that the court determines the percentage of fault of each party.
Comparative Negligence vs. Strict Contributory Negligence
Strict contributory negligence is a less common tort law applied only in the District of Columbia and four states, including Maryland, Virginia, and Alabama. Unlike comparative negligence, this doctrine states that a plaintiff is barred from seeking damages if they are as little as one percent responsible for the accident. This law is stricter and often seen as unfair in most other states.
How to Prove Negligence in Motor Vehicle Accidents
A plaintiff is required to prove negligence before recovering compensation. You can prove negligence by establishing these four primary elements:
Duty of Care
A plaintiff needs to establish that the defendant owed them some level of duty of care. In the case of traffic accidents, drivers should always follow Georgia traffic rules to protect themselves and other road users. Therefore, every driver owes other road users a duty of care to act with reasonable care to avoid causing harm.
Breach of Duty of Care
The next step is showing that the defendant violated their duty of care, consequently causing you harm. Failure to act with the level of care that a reasonable person would exercise in similar circumstances constitutes a breach of duty of care. This includes speeding, reckless driving, DUI, violating traffic laws, etc.
You must prove that the breach is the direct cause of the accident and your damages.
You must have suffered actual harm or damages as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty. Damages include medical bills, property damages, emotional trauma, loss of income, disability, and more.
How Georgia’s Comparative Negligence Laws Affect Your Personal Injury Claim
When involved in a traffic accident due to another driver’s negligence and you sustain injuries, you may file a personal injury claim with the other driver’s insurance company. This is true for all at-fault states, including Georgia.
The insurance company will investigate the accident to determine fault and liability. An accident victim who is unfamiliar with the modified comparative negligence rule applied in Georgia may be easily manipulated by insurance companies. They could try to convince victims that they are partially at fault and are not entitled to compensation. In an equally unjust scenario, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may inflate your percentage of fault to pay you as little as possible.
While the modified comparative negligence rule protects victims’ right to compensation even when they are partially at fault, it can be easily manipulated to prevent them from recovering compensation. If the at-fault party can prove your negligence exceeds 49 percent, even by one percent, you will be barred from recovering damages.
Working with a personal injury attorney well-versed in Georgia car accident laws and negligence rules is crucial to safeguarding your right to fair compensation. Our experienced car accident attorney can provide the knowledgeable and aggressive representation you need.
What to Do When You Get Involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident in Georgia
Here are the steps you should take after a motor vehicle accident:
Consult an attorney: An attorney is your best option for sorting out the situation faster, including filing for compensation.
Investigate the accident and gather evidence: If you aren’t severely injured, you must start taking pictures of the scene, the damage, and the involved vehicles. You must document everything that might be used to determine fault, including road signs, skid marks, and road conditions. Your attorney will help you investigate the accident further and obtain more evidence.
Calculate damages: Your lawyer can advise on the compensation amount to seek. They can calculate your damages accurately to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
File a claim with the at-fault party’s insurer: Open negotiations with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Your attorney will negotiate with the insurance adjuster for a favorable outcome. Note that insurance companies often try to pay the least amount possible and may try to use your evidence and words against you.
File a lawsuit if negotiations do not work: Settlement negotiations may fail due to disagreements on the fault percentage or the payout amount. If this happens, filing a comparative negligence lawsuit may be the only bet for fair financial compensation. A personal injury lawyer from Tadeo & Silva Law can help you through this stressful process for a fair and favorable outcome.
Contact a Tadeo & Silva Law
Getting involved in a car accident is a traumatic experience, but victims should power through it to receive justice. Having an experienced Tadeo & Silva Law personal injury lawyer on your side will make the journey to financial recovery easier and more straightforward.
We set ourselves apart as well-experienced, diverse, effective, and aggressive with every case we handle. Furthermore, we take a personalized approach to every case we handle and maintain honest and open communication with our clients.
Contact us today for personalized, dedicated legal representation and guidance.