If you think you contributed to an accident, you should talk to a lawyer right away to protect your rights. You might face the possibility of financial responsibility for another person’s losses. You could also see a potential reduction in the amount of compensation that you can receive for your damages.
With so much at stake, you do not want to try to handle a situation like this without a lawyer by your side. Working with a car accident lawyer from the very beginning can help to mitigate these situations.
How Being Partly at Fault Could Affect Your Injury Claim
If you got hurt in the accident, your possible negligence could affect your right to receive money damages for your losses. You might receive a reduced amount or nothing at all, depending on the facts of your case.
Georgia Follows the Rule of Modified Comparative Negligence
When an injured person was partially at fault in the accident that caused the harm, Georgia courts will apply the rule of “modified comparative negligence” to calculate the damages the plaintiff can receive. The injured person will get a reduced amount of compensation.
Standard comparative negligence reduces the amount of money damages in proportion to the plaintiff’s percentage of the total negligence. For example:
A driver was operating a vehicle below the posted minimum speed on a highway. A second driver was driving recklessly, changing lanes frequently, speeding, and tailgating. By the time that the reckless driver realized that the first driver was going slowly, he could not reduce his speed enough to avoid a collision with the slower car. Both drivers sustained injuries when the cars crashed into each other.
The judge determined that the slow driver was 10 percent at fault, and the reckless driver was 90 percent at fault. The slow driver had losses of $100,000 from his injuries. Applying Georgia’s rule of comparative negligence, the slow driver’s money damages will get reduced by 10 percent, to $90,000, to account for his portion of the total negligence.
How Modified Comparative Negligence Can Look
Here is an example of how the “modified” aspect of “modified comparative negligence” works:
A driver did not stop at a stop sign. The driver of a second car would have been able to avoid a collision easily if she had not been texting while driving. The cars crashed into each other, and both drivers got hurt.
The judge decided that each driver was 50 percent to blame for the collision. Georgia’s modified comparative negligence rule bars plaintiffs from any recovery of damages for their losses when the plaintiff is 50 percent or more at fault. Because both drivers were 50 percent at fault, Georgia’s modified comparative negligence rule means that neither driver will receive any money damages from the other.
What the Other Side Will Have to Prove to Hold You Partly Liable for the Accident
Parties to a crash will often point fingers and accuse each other of carelessness that caused the accident. Georgia law requires people to prove their allegations of fault. If someone tries to pin some of the blame for a crash on you, the accuser will have to show all four of these elements of liability:
- You had a legal duty. Let’s say that there was a two-car accident. Everyone who operates a motor vehicle on public roads has a duty to obey the rules of the road.
- You violated the legal obligation. When someone does not live up to the standard of a legal duty, it is negligence. You did not use your turn signal before turning right onto a street. The rules of the road require the use of turn signals.
- The negligence must be the cause of the accident. People commit acts of negligence frequently when behind the wheel, often without realizing it. Most minor careless actions do not cause car crashes. The two-vehicle accident happened because a drunk driver lost control of his car and careened into you after you made your right turn. Since your minor negligence was not the cause of the crash, you are not liable.
- The negligence must result in measurable damages. Even if the drunk driver got hurt in the collision, your negligence did not cause the accident or his injuries. He cannot hold you partly responsible for the crash or his losses.
Getting Legal Help for an Accident
We realize that these situations can be confusing and hard to understand. You do not have to figure out whether your actions can reduce the amount of compensation you can collect for your injuries or bar you from getting any money damages. If we take your case, we will address those issues for you.
At S. Burke Law, we let our clients focus on getting better, and we can take care of the rest. If you think you contributed to an accident, call us today at (404) 842-7838 to get started. The initial consultation is free.