After an injury-causing accident, you’ll likely want to recover the most compensation possible to offset your losses. But Georgia law states the financial compensation that a victim can ultimately recover will be determined by their level of fault for the incident in question.
Essentially, your settlement could be reduced if you are found to share some degree of fault for your injuries. Fortunately, a skilled personal injury attorney can help maximize your payout and protect you from unfounded shared fault allegations.
Call The Champion Firm at 404-596-8044 to schedule your free consultation with our Georgia legal team and learn more about how your case could be affected by Georgia’s comparative negligence laws.
Georgia’s Comparative Negligence Laws
Georgia follows modified comparative negligence laws. When you are involved in an accident, you can share up to 49% of the blame for the accident and still be awarded compensation. If you are more than 49% liable for the accident, you will be prohibited from recovering damages in civil court. You can also expect the insurance company to refuse to settle your claim.
It should also be noted that your settlement will be reduced when you share fault under Georgia’s modified comparative negligence laws. The amount of compensation you will lose by sharing fault correlates with your percentage of blame. For example, if you were 25% responsible for causing the accident, you can only recover 75% of your damages.
Strict Contributory & Comparative Negligence
Modified comparative negligence is just one type of shared fault. Different types of shared liability laws could apply depending on where your accident occurred. Some states, like Washington or New York, follow a pure comparative negligence system.
In pure comparative negligence states, instead of placing a limit on how much liability you can share and still recover compensation for your damages, there is no limit. You could be as much as 99% responsible for causing the accident and still be entitled to compensation for the one percent that was not your fault.
Some states follow a pure contributory fault system. If you share any blame for the accident or your subsequent injuries, you will be prohibited from pursuing a case in civil court or recovering compensation for your losses. Four states follow pure contributory fault laws: Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, and Alabama.
Georgia is a modified comparative fault state. And, while you can recover compensation even if you share partial responsibility, you can expect the liable party to attempt to capitalize on these laws to further their own interests, reduce your settlement, and avoid blame.
What Does Comparative Negligence Look Like?
Here are some examples of how modified comparative negligence works in Georgia:
Tracy was involved in a motorcycle accident. She was not wearing a motorcycle helmet at the time of the crash. The driver who hit her was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. Tracy eventually pursued a personal injury claim against the driver that struck her and the dram shop that overserved the driver. However, because Tracy was not wearing her motorcycle helmet, the judge found her 10% responsible for her subsequent brain injury. Therefore, her $500,000 recovery was reduced by 10%, leaving her with $450,000.
Here is another example:
Will was walking down the street when a dog suddenly attacked him. The dog’s owner argued that Will provoked the dog by taunting him before the attack. The defense attempted to introduce evidence of this provocation, and the judge found that Will was 20% responsible for his injuries. When the jury awarded $250,000, the judge reduced the settlement by 20%, leaving Will with $200,000.
These losses are considerable and substantially impact how much your personal injury settlement could be worth. If you hope to protect your settlement, make sure you have a knowledgeable legal advocate ensuring fault is accurately assessed in your case.
How is Partial Fault for an Accident Proven?
The burden of proof in personal injury claims is based on a preponderance of the evidence. The insurance company and defense will likely attempt to introduce evidence to show you share fault for your injuries. They may use screenshots of your social media pages or argue that you failed to follow your healthcare provider’s treatment plan, worsening your injuries.
You can protect yourself and reduce the risk of your case by staying on track with your medical treatments and care. You should follow your personal injury attorney’s advice and stay off social media. Although you do not need to avoid your social media pages entirely, you should never post anything about your accident or involving your everyday life. The last thing you need is for these details to be misconstrued and used as evidence against you.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
Even those who do not share blame for their injuries are often accused of sharing some responsibility for their damages. If you share any degree of liability for your accident or suspect the other side may claim you’re at least partially to blame, all hope is not lost. A dedicated personal injury attorney fighting for your rights helps protect your settlement.
Your attorney can introduce evidence showing the defendant is solely or primarily responsible for the accident and your injuries. We can also provide valuable evidence to refute the defense’s case against you, so your portion of the blame is reduced accordingly.
Evidence that could be used to prove culpability includes:
- Video surveillance of the accident
- Photos of the victim’s injuries
- Copies of the defendant’s BAC results
- Copies of the defendant’s cell phone records
- Vehicle black box data
- Testimony from expert witnesses
- Bystander statements and testimony
Call The Champion Firm Today
When the at-fault party accuses you of sharing the blame for the accident, you may feel offended and worried about how your settlement will be affected. While your financial recovery could be reduced if you share fault, a dedicated Georgia personal injury lawyer will tirelessly protect you and maximize compensation. Contact The Champion Firm at 404-596-8044 today for a free, no-risk consultation.