Recovering Damages Under Georgia’s Modified Comparative Negligence System
Many personal injury claims stem from accidents or other incidents where the injured party is also partially responsible. Georgia uses a system called modified comparative negligence to factor the plaintiff’s fault into determining awards of damages. An injured person can recover monetary damages as long as he or she was no more than 49 percent at fault for the accident. If their fault was 50 percent or more, no compensation can be obtained.
For example, in a car accident, an injured person will often be found partially at fault in one of several ways, such as:
- Speeding at the time of the crash
- Following another car too closely
- Signaling a maneuver too late or not at all
- Not having properly functioning headlights or taillights
- Failing to follow traffic signs or signals
- Driving while distracted
- Failing to wear a seatbelt
How does comparative negligence work? The injured party’s proven damages are reduced by that party’s percentage of fault. For example, let’s say you are involved in an auto accident and you sustain damages of $100,000. At trial, the jury finds you 20 percent at fault and the other driver 80 percent at fault. In this case, your total damage award would be reduced by 20 percent, so the other driver would need to pay you $80,000.
In actuality, fault isn’t always clear. Multiple factors can contribute to any accident and determining the percentage of causation is not an exact science. Insurance companies will try to find a reason to assign more of the blame to the injured person. Your personal injury lawyer’s job is to prevent the defense from pushing so much of the blame onto you that you are found 50 percent or more at fault, which would bar you from recovering compensation.
The Law Office of S. Mark Mitchell, LLC in Newnan passionately advocates for people injured in accidents, falls and other incidents in Georgia. I offer a free initial consultation where you can speak with me about your situation and find out how the firm may be able to help. To schedule yours, please call 470-344-8550 or contact me online.