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How Does Georgia’s Comparative Negligence Law Affect My Case?

By Butler Prather LLP on August 17, 2022

Any time an accident that leads to an injury occurs, the parties involved will examine liability. If one party caused the injury to another party, then the victim will likely be able to recover compensation for their losses from the at-fault party. However, liability is not always cut and dry. There are times when more than one party is at fault for an incident, and some individuals can even be partially responsible for causing their own injuries. Under Georgia’s comparative negligence laws, this can affect compensation amounts.

What is Comparative Negligence in Georgia?

Every state across the country has laws regarding how to handle situations where more than one party is at fault for an injury. For example, when a vehicle accident occurs, fault is not always clear at first, often because more than one driver shares the blame for the incident. Shared fault can occur in any number of injury-causing incidents, including slip and fall incidents, defective product claims, motorcycle accidents, etc.

Some states handle shared fault with a contributory negligence system, which means individuals are unable to recover compensation if they are in any way responsible for the incident, including just 1%. Other states use a pure comparative negligence system, allowing individuals to recover compensation regardless of how much fault they had for the incident, even up to 99%.

Most states, including Georgia, use a comparative negligence system. The nuances with this system from state to state deal with minute percentages. In Georgia, individuals can recover compensation if they are less than 50% responsible for the incident. Any person who is 50% or more responsible for causing their own injury will be unable to recover compensation for their injury or property damage expenses.

Even though individuals 49% or less responsible for their own injury can still recover compensation, this does not necessarily mean they will recover full compensation. Because individuals share a percentage of fault, this also means that they will receive reduced compensation depending on their percentage of responsibility for the incident.

For example, let us suppose that an individual motorcyclist in Georgia is merging onto a freeway but is injured by a driver operating their vehicle at a high rate of speed already in lane the motorcyclist wishes to merge into. As a result of the crash, let us imagine that the motorcyclist sustains a broken leg injury and incurs $100,000 worth of medical expenses and lost wages. However, let us also suppose that the motorcyclist is found to be 20% responsible for the incident because they activated their turn signal too late, just as they were about to merge.

In this scenario, the motorcyclist would recover $80,000 as opposed to the full $100,000. The $20,000 less accounts for the 20% of fault the motorcyclist had for the incident.

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Shared fault is one of the main defenses that at-fault parties will use when trying to reduce how much compensation they pay victims. If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the negligence of another party but are being blamed for causing some are all the incident, work with an Atlanta personal injury attorney as soon as possible who can help push back against these allegations of fault.

Posted in: Car Accidents

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