Winning personal injury claims and collecting a settlement requires proving liability and negligence. But in many instances, one person is not solely responsible for an accident. That is where Georgia’s comparative negligence applies to personal injury claims. Georgia’s comparative negligence laws reduce the damages plaintiffs can recover in a claim.
The reduction is based upon the degree to which the plaintiff contributed to an accident. Georgia’s comparative negligence laws also influence how much you can collect as well. That makes understanding them and considering whether you need to consider hiring representation vital to your case.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Navigate Georgia’s Comparative Negligence Laws
If you or someone you care about was involved in an accident recently, we encourage you to call S. Burke Law. We will painstakingly review your case and guide you through how Georgia’s comparative negligence laws may affect your case. Call us at 404-842-7838 for a free consultation.
How Comparative Negligence Impacts Your Personal Injury Claim
Georgia is one of 12 states in the country that follows modified comparative laws in personal injury claims. There are three types of comparative negligence:
- Modified comparative negligence – 50 percent rule
- Modified comparative negligence – 51 percent rule
- Pure comparative negligence
Georgia follows §51-11-7 modified comparative negligence – 50 percent rule. This basically means that you must be 50 percent or less at fault in an accident to collect a settlement. This contrasts with other states who use pure contributory negligence. In those states, you cannot collect a settlement if you contributed to the incident in any way.
It also contrasts from pure comparative negligence because it does not put a specific constraint on the degree one party contributed to an accident. Many people consider pure contributory negligence laws as overly harsh, so comparative negligence laws are a compromise.
But Georgia’s comparative negligence laws do not only influence your ability to collect a settlement. They also impact how much you can collect.
Georgia’s Comparative Negligence Laws Impact on Your Settlement
Understanding how comparative negligence laws influence your settlement is very important. In most personal injury claims, you will seek compensation for some of the following damages:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
Let us say that you were involved in a car accident. You suffered significant injuries, missed time at work, and your car was totaled. The sum of all these damages and financial losses totaled $100,000.
However, a jury determined that you were 25 percent responsible for the accident because you were speeding when the accident occurred. You would win an award for your damages, but 25 percent of your losses would not be included in your settlement package. That means you would collect $75,000 in damages because you are responsible for that portion of the accident.
Knowing these details makes hiring the right representation for your case that much more important. Georgia’s comparative negligence laws make effectively proving fault that much more important. Because it not only influences whether you can collect a settlement, but how much you can collect.
Proving Fault in Your Personal Injury Case
Proving fault is the primary goal in personal injury cases. And it is all the more important when considering that your ability to collect a settlement hinges on demonstrating the slim margin between being 50 and 51 percent at fault for an accident.
And like we mentioned above, it directly impacts how much you can collect as well. If you are going to successfully demonstrate who is at fault for an accident, you must establish the following:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
Duty of Care
Everyone has some level of duty of care when sharing the road with other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. Duty of care is broadly defined as the type of behavior expected of a reasonable person under normal circumstances.
For example, stopping for pedestrians at crosswalks is part of a driver’s duty of care. Conversely, a pedestrian’s duty of care is to stop at an intersection when the traffic lights signal them to do so.
Establishing what duty of care is allows us to identify when there is a breach of duty. Using the above examples, a driver has breached his or her duty of care if they attempt to pass through a crosswalk with pedestrians in the way without yielding.
Breach of Duty
It is also possible for somebody to breach a duty of care. For example, if a pedestrian attempts to cross a busy intersection when the traffic lights tell them otherwise.
These two elements are vital to proving fault in your case, and greatly influence how much you can collect under Georgia’s comparative negligence laws.
Once a breach of duty occurs, an attorney will attempt to prove causation. Causation establishes that this incident would not have occurred without the previous breach of duty.
Considering Georgia’s comparative negligence laws, establishing causation factors heavily into not only establishing who was at fault, but how much that person’s breach of duty contributed to the accident.
Call an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney
A personal injury case is never a simple matter. And we understand how Georgia’s comparative negligence laws may make it feel even more complicated. But it does not have to be that way for you. Our team at S. Burke Law has grappled with the nuances of Georgia’s comparative negligence laws and personal injury claims for years.
In that time, we have secured significant settlements on behalf of our clients because our primary objective is establishing that you are the victim. And we do that gathering and examining all the information available to demonstrate that the other party was at fault.Our service to you begins with just one phone call. Our consultations come at no cost, so you can feel free to collect all the information you want from us before deciding to file a personal injury claim. Call us at 404-842-7838 for your free consultation.