Georgia law follows the rule of modified comparative fault when addressing damages for a person who was partially at fault. You can get some compensation for your losses after the law reduces your total damages in proportion to your amount of negligence. If you were 50% or more responsible for the injury, you will not get to collect any compensation for your losses. That is something to consider when figuring how much you are entitled to if you are partially at fault for an accident.
Comparative Fault Explained
Most states follow either the comparative fault or the contributory fault approach when dealing with cases that involve partial negligence on the part of the injured person.
- Comparative fault. The plaintiff can still go after compensation for his losses, despite the fact that he was partly to blame for the accident, as long as someone else was also at fault. The amount of money damages the plaintiff can collect will get reduced in proportion to the plaintiff’s negligence.
- Contributory negligence. Only a few states use contributory negligence in these situations. Under this rule, you will not get to recover any money damages at all if you were even slightly at fault. Because this approach can have harsh consequences, most states, including Georgia, adopted the comparative negligence rule.
How Georgia’s Modified Comparative Fault Differs From “Pure” Comparative Fault
In general, Georgia lets injured people recover a reduced amount of money damages if they were partly responsible for the accident. There is one caveat, however, that can impact how much you are entitled to if you are partially at fault for an accident. Georgia sets the threshold at 50%.
A plaintiff who was 49% or less at fault in the accident that injured him can recover some damages from the other negligent party. If the judge determines that the plaintiff was 50% or more at fault, Georgia’s law of modified comparative negligence will bar the plaintiff from getting any compensation for his losses.
A state that uses a “modified” comparative negligence approach will set a limit on the amount of negligence the plaintiff can have before the injured person’s fault disqualifies him from getting money damages. Negligence that equals or exceeds the threshold (50% in Georgia) is an absolute bar to recovery of compensation.
When a state uses a “pure” comparative negligence rule, there is no limit to how much at fault the plaintiff can be and still recover some damages, as long as someone else was at least 1% negligent. The rule will reduce the plaintiff’s compensation by the percentage of his negligence, so he might not end up recovering much after the adjustment if he was mostly at fault. Georgia does not use the theory of pure comparative negligence.
How Georgia Law Handles the Negligence of Non-Parties
In some situations, a plaintiff will only sue one of several parties who caused the accident. Depending on the facts of the case, the court can take the non-party’s negligence into account when deciding how much compensation to award to the plaintiff.
Let’s say that the defendant was responsible for 70% of the negligence that caused the accident. The plaintiff was 10% at fault, and the judge found that a non-party bore 20% of the blame.
The plaintiff’s damages totaled $100,000. Applying Georgia’s rule of modified comparative fault, the court can reduce the amount of the plaintiff’s compensation by $10,000, to account for his 10% of the total fault. The court might further reduce the plaintiff’s award by 20% because of the non-party’s liability.
Types of Damages in Accident Claims
The amount that you are entitled to if you are partially at fault for an accident will depend on the facts of your case. Every case is unique. Some of the damages people can recover for their losses from accidents in Georgia include:
- Lost wages. People usually miss work after a significant injury. If you did not get paid for the time that you could not work because of your injury and recuperation time, you can go after compensation for that loss.
- Decreased earning capacity. If your injuries cause you to be unable to make as much money after you go back to work, you can pursue a claim for the difference in what you used to earn and how much you can make now.
- Medical bills. You can recover the reasonable cost of treatment that you needed for your injuries. This category of damages can include things like the ambulance, emergency room, hospital, doctors, surgeries, diagnostic testing, prescription drugs, and physical therapy.
- Equipment. Depending on the nature and extent of your injuries, you might require specialized equipment, like prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs, home renovations, and an adapted vehicle.
- Intangible losses. If you sustained a physical injury, you can go after some losses like pain and suffering, disfigurement, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and loss of the enjoyment of life.
You might qualify for additional damages, based on your situation.
S. Burke Law Can Help With Your Accident Case
Call S. Burke Law today to get started on rebuilding your life. You can focus on getting better while we take care of the rest. Call (404) 842-7838 now for a free consultation and for more information about how much you are entitled to if you are partially at fault for an accident.