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A Guide to Comparative Negligence in Georgia

A Guide to Comparative Negligence in Georgia

If you have been injured in a personal injury accident, such as a car accident or a slip and fall accident, you have the right to pursue compensation. Under Georgia law, a person whose negligence causes another person’s injuries is responsible for paying for costs associated with those injuries. Determining liability is one of the most challenging aspects of succeeding in a personal injury lawsuit. Every state has its laws regarding who is liable in a personal injury accident. Georgia uses the legal doctrine of modified comparative negligence, which we will discuss below.

What Does Comparative Negligence Mean?

Georgia uses a rule known as modified comparative fault to determine who is liable in a personal injury accident. Under the comparative negligence rule, a person injured in an accident can receive monetary damages when the court or jury finds that the injured person was no more than 49% at fault for the accident. Should the court or jury find the victim to be 50% or more responsible for causing the accident, then he or she cannot recover any monetary damages.

A Real-World Example of Comparative Negligence in Georgia

Let’s consider an example of how Georgia’s modified comparative negligence rule would work in real life. John is driving while under the influence of alcohol in Georgia. He is driving 15 miles above the speed limit in a somewhat reckless fashion. Susan is about to go through an intersection when she looks back at her children in the backseat to tell them to stop arguing. John attempts to make a left-hand turn and waits too long after the light turns yellow to turn left. Having glanced toward the back seat, Susan looks up suddenly and realizes she cannot avoid colliding with John, who is turning left. By the time John enters the intersection, the light has already turned red.

It is possible that had Susan been paying more attention, she would have avoided colliding with John. However, John is also at fault because he made an unlawful left-hand turn. Susan suffers a severe neck injury and brings a lawsuit against John for negligence. John claims that Susan was mainly at fault for driving while distracted. The court assigns John 75% of the fault and Susan 25% of the fault. They determined that John misjudged Susan’s speed and failed to yield to oncoming traffic and collided with her while attempting to make a left-hand turn. 

The court found that Susan was 25% at fault because she was driving while distracted. The jury awarded Susan $100,000 in compensation. In this case, they would reduce her total compensation by her percentage of fault for the accident. After removing 25% of the award for her percentage of fault, she would recover $75,000 in damages. 

Strict Contributory Negligence vs. Comparative Negligence

Every state has a different legal rule for determining fault eligibility for monetary compensation after a personal injury accident. Today, most states use some type of comparative fault when they decide fault and how much a victim can recover. There are two main types of rules regarding comparative fault in personal injury cases. The first rule is called strict contributory fault or negligence. The second rule is modified comparative fault, which is the rule Georgia follows.

When a state uses a strict contributory fault rule, the accident victim can only recover compensation if he or she was not at fault at all. A small number of states continue to use this rule as it is seen as overly harsh by many. Under this rule, when the victim is at fault to any degree, even 1% at fault, they cannot recover any compensation. For example, if the court found that the defendant was 95% at fault for causing a slip and fall accident and found the victim to be 5% at fault, the victim would be barred from recovering any compensation. Virginia, Alabama, and North Carolina continue to follow a strict or pure contributory negligence rule.

Modified comparative negligence rules allow victims to recover compensation in proportion to the defendant’s level of fault. In the example mentioned above, if the victim was 5% at fault for the accident, he or she could still recover 95% of the damage award. However, the victim still needs to prove that he or she was less than 50% at fault for the accident to recover compensation. Finally, some states use a pure comparative negligence rule. Under this rule, the victim does not need to prove that he or she was less than 50% at fault to recover damages. Even if the victim bringing a lawsuit was 95% at fault, he or she could still obtain 5% of the damages.

Finding the Best Lawyer for Your Case

Have you been injured in a car accident in Georgia? It is crucial that you discuss your case with a lawyer as soon as possible. Thankfully, in Georgia, you will not need to prove that you were completely innocent in order to recover compensation. Even if you were partially at fault for the car accident, you could still recover compensation. Rice McGowan & Brandt, will help you thoroughly investigate your case and gather evidence showing that the defendant was at fault. We can also contend that you were not at fault for your accident so you can obtain the most compensation possible.

Discuss Your Case With a Georgia Car Accident Lawyer

In Georgia, personal injury accident victims only have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit. The sooner you discuss your case with a lawyer, the more time your lawyer will have to investigate and prepare your legal strategy. Rice McGowan & Brandt, offers potential clients a free initial consultation. Contact us today to learn more about how we can advocate for your right to compensation. 

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