Sharing the Blame: How Georgia’s Rules on Negligence Affect Your Case
In car accidents, just as in life, things are rarely completely black and white. A large number of accidents may be mostly one person’s fault, but it is uncommon to find an accident where one driver’s behavior did not contribute in any way to the accident.
Say, for instance, that you are driving just a few miles per hour over the speed limit (as any drivers often do) as you approach a traffic light. The light turns yellow, and you decide to drive through as you are too close to stop safely for the red. At the same time, a car cuts in front of you as they are turning onto the road just before the light, and you hit their rear quarter panel.
While that driver is mostly to blame for the accident, it could be argued that had you been driving the speed limit, you would have been able to stop in time for the yellow light and likely been going slow enough to avoid the other car. This does not relieve the other driver of responsibility, but how will damages be awarded?
Comparative Negligence: Divvying up Responsibility in Car Accidents
Georgia follows the practice of modified comparative negligence with a 50 percent bar. This means that if you are found to be less than 50 percent responsible for your accident, you can collect an adjusted amount of damages. If you are 50 percent responsible, however, you cannot collect—if you hold more than 50 percent of the blame, you may be shelling out money for the other driver’s damages.
Monetary damages are adjusted according to your percentage of responsibility. In the above scenario, for example, you may be found 10 percent responsible for the crash. If it is determined that your damages are worth $10,000, your fault—in this case, 10 percent—would be deducted from your settlement, resulting in you receiving $9,000.
Not every state follows the comparative negligence principle, however. A small handful of states, including nearby Alabama and North Carolina, follow what is considered “contributory negligence” laws. This means that if you are found to have been even the smallest bit negligent and contributed to your crash in any way, you are barred from collecting any damages.
When the Lines of Liability Are Blurred, Call Christopher J. Hudson
If the person who caused your car accident is trying to prove that your negligence contributed to the accident as well, you must act quickly and aggressively to ensure that your settlement will not be affected. After a wreck, reach out to us as soon as possible to ensure that your rights, damages, and case are in good hands—just call our office, or start a live chat with us online now!