In any personal injury claim, there are two major factors that determine the final outcome of your case: Negligence and causation. Negligence is what refers to the party’s failure to take reasonable care that was owed to the victim. Causation is what refers to proving that the defendant’s failure to provide reasonable care led to the victim’s injuries. If a defendant was negligent and caused the accident, the defendant is liable for any injuries or damages that result. But, what happens when the victim was partially at-fault for the accident?
Georgia, like many other states, has comparative negligence laws. These laws allow injured parties to recover damages, even if they partially contributed to the accident. However, the law does affect how much compensation that a victim could receive for his or her injuries. Therefore, it is imperative that a victim collect the right evidence, with the assistance of an Atlanta personal injury attorney, to ensure that his or her settlement is not reduced.
Modified Comparative Negligence
In some states, you could be barred from collecting any compensation, even if you were only one percent at-fault. Georgia is not one of those states. Instead, you can still recover damages, even if you were partially negligent. Georgia applies the modified comparative negligence rule, which allows you to recover damages even if you were at-fault, but only if you were 49 percent or less at-fault. If you are 50 percent or more at-fault, the state bars you from collecting compensation.
The defense may use this law to their advantage, and try to argue that you contributed to the accident by failing to signal, failing to look out for hazards, etc. They will do what they can to prove that you were 50 percent or more at-fault and, therefore, removing their obligation to settle.
Proving negligence in comparative negligence states often becomes a finger-pointing game. In order to establish that the other party was in fact negligent, your attorney must investigate the accident, compile evidence, and even collect witness statements proving that the defense was more at-fault than you.
Percentage of Fault Does Affect How Much You Can Recover
Even if you are able to establish that the defendant was 50 percent or more at-fault, you will still have your settlement reduced, based on how much you were at-fault. For example, if you were found to be 20 percent at-fault, then your settlement amount would be reduced by 20 percent. Therefore, a $100,000 settlement would be reduced by $20,000 to cover your fault.
This reduction in settlement value only proves how important it is to establish fault and minimize any accusations of comparative negligence during a personal injury claim. When your compensation can be dramatically reduced, it is imperative that you work with an attorney to help ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve.
Speak with a Georgia Personal Injury Attorney
Because comparative negligence has the risk to reduce your settlement dramatically, you need to establish fault. To do this, you need an experienced personal injury attorney representing your claim. The team at Van Sant Law, can help. Contact us today for a consultation at 404-991-5950 or fill out our online contact form with your legal questions.