Collecting a settlement for damages in a personal injury case requires proving negligence. Georgia adheres to a comparative negligence system in determining the allocation of settlements. Comparative negligence is a simple concept which basically states that victims may collect damages up to what the victim contributed to the accident. There are three types of comparative negligence:
- Pure comparative negligence
- Modified comparative negligence – 51 percent rule
- Modified comparative negligence – 50 percent rule
Georgia is one of just 12 states that follow the modified comparative negligence — 50 percent rule. This means a victim must be 50 percent or less at fault for an accident to collect a settlement.
But that is not all. In addition to whether you can collect a settlement, comparative negligence laws in a Georgia personal injury claim determine how much you can collect in a settlement. If you were involved in an accident in Atlanta, you may consider filing a personal injury claim. And understanding how Georgia’s negligence laws work could play a large part in your decision.
We encourage you to call S. Burke Law as you consider your options. Our consultations are always free, so you can gather all the information you need. And if you decide to file a claim, we can assure we will represent you to the best of our ability. Call us at 404-842-7838.
Georgia’s 50 Percent Rule
Like we mentioned above, Georgia follows the modified comparative negligence — 50 percent rule. Victims in Georgia personal injury claims must bear 50 percent or less responsibility for accidents. If their contribution crosses that threshold, you are ineligible to collect any damages.
In addition, Georgia’s modified comparative negligence laws dictate how much you can collect in your settlement. The degree to which you contributed to an accident determines how much you can collect.
Let us use the following as an example:
- Your settlement totaled $100,000.
- You were 25 percent at fault for your accident.
Under Georgia’s comparative negligence laws, you would not receive 25 percent of that settlement because that is the degree to which you contributed to the accident. So, you would only receive a $75,000 settlement. Clearly, Georgia’s negligence laws have a significant impact on your settlement.
Determining the percentages of fault comes down to what you can prove. Typically, insurance companies determine how liable each party is for an accident. But this is also where an Atlanta personal injury attorney can help. An attorney can survey the evidence, argue on your behalf, and potentially lower your liability.
Determining Liability in Your Atlanta Personal Injury Claim
Your settlement’s value hinges on determining liability. Determining liability, and negligence by extension, in personal injury cases is not an exact science. But there are four elements of negligence which you can look to when proving negligence:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
Duty of Care
Whether it is a property owner, driver, or pedestrian, everyone exercises some level of duty of care. A duty of care refers to the assumed standard of reasonable behavior when performing tasks that could injure or harm others. Determining what reasonable actions are and whether a violation occurred is the first step in determining negligence.
For example, making a complete stop at stop signs is part of the duty of care associated with safely driving a car. Doing anything else at a stop sign would constitute a breach of duty.
Breach of Duty
Once you can define what constitutes as a reasonable duty of care, you can determine if there was a breach of duty. Using stop signs as an example again, running a stop sign is a breach of duty. The driver did not exercise duty of care and acted in a way outside the standard of reasonable behavior while driving, which is a task that could harm others.
The driver who runs the stop sign may cause a car accident by hitting another vehicle attempting to cross the road. If that collision damages the other vehicle and injures the driver and passengers, this is causation.
There is causation once we have established someone breached the duty of care. Any injuries and damages incurred following breached duty is causation. Essentially, proving causation requires proving that these injuries and damages would not have happened without the breach of duty.
Once you prove the previous three elements, you can begin calculating the expenses and losses the accident created. These losses are “damages,” and while determining damages varies from case to case, the following is a list of the most common:
- Property damage
- Medical expenses
- Lost Wages
Depending on the severity of your accident, you may acquire additional damages. For example, if your injuries are permanent, lost long-term wages may be a damage. Pain and suffering or even punitive damages may come into play as well.
The process of determining liability grows complicated depending on the nature of your accident. However, hiring a personal injury attorney may help you navigate this complicated process.
Call an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney
Few things are as frustrating and confusing as dealing with personal injury claims. S. Burke Law understands that. Concepts like modified comparative negligence laws in a Georgia personal injury claim are a big reason why it feels so complicated. And the last thing you have the time to do is sift through legal documents after an accident.
You should focus on making a full recovery and how you will make ends meet. Filing a personal injury claim may be something you consider, but you might be unsure where to begin. We suggest beginning with us. S. Burke law has over 20 years of experience serving the Atlanta community. We have collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages on behalf of clients in that time. If you are interested in learning how we can help you, contact us at 404-842-7838. Our consultations are always free.