If you suffer injuries in an accident due to someone else’s fault or negligence, then it is your right to receive reimbursement. However, in certain situations, a victim can be found partially at-fault for an accident, which can reduce the amount you recover in damages. For this reason, it is important to understand comparative fault.
Here in Georgia, we have modified comparative fault laws. But what exactly is comparative fault and how can this impact your case? Here is what you should know about accident liability and the damages you can recover when you are partially at fault for an accident.
The Fundamentals of Comparative Fault
When attorneys say that Georgia is a comparative fault state, it means that you can only recover damages from accidents that are less than 50% your fault. Another term for this is proportionate responsibility.
In contrast, several states use pure contributory negligence rules. These rules stop someone who suffers from an accident from recovering any damages if they are at fault whatsoever for their accident. If you are found 20% at fault for your accident, the defendant in your case will owe you nothing for your injuries.
Furthermore, there are several states that have pure comparative fault rules. In other words, those who suffer from an accident can recover damages even if they are 99% at fault.
You might ask why you can only recover damages from an accident that is less than half your fault in Georgia. Several states, including Georgia, follow a 50% bar rule, while others follow the 51% bar rule.
To put it another way, an accident that you are found 50% responsible for in Georgia will not result in damages recovery from a case’s plaintiff. However, if you had that same accident in Oregon, where there is a 51% rule, you could recover damages as you were less than 51% at fault.
Comparative Fault Reduction to Damages
What difference does it make if you were 1% or 49% at fault? The fact is, the more you are at fault for your accident, the less you can recover for your damages in Georgia.
Due to proportionate responsibility rules, you can only recover damages up to the amount that someone else is at fault. For instance, if you are 50% at fault for your accident, in Georgia you will not recover any damages from a plaintiff. However, if you are found 25% responsible, then you will have a reduction of your damages by 25 percent.
Here is how this works realistically. Let us say that your total damages for an accident amounts to $10,000. Due to your actions, you are 25% responsible for the event. In this case, you can recover a maximum of $7,500. That is because your proportionate responsibility is 25% and thus, you can recover the other 75% from the plaintiff.
Joint and Several Liability
There are certain situations where proportionate responsibility becomes more difficult to determine. This is often the case in accidents involving two or more at-fault parties.
Assume that you are 20% responsible for an accident where there are $10,000 in total damages. In this example, the other at-fault parties are both 40% responsible for your accident and owe $4,000 in damages each. But one of the plaintiffs does not have insurance to cover the damages award. What happens in this case?
Before 2005 in Georgia, a defendant could hold both parties responsible for the total amount of damages. Now, Georgia has modified joint and several liability rules. This means that you can only recover damages from one plaintiff for the amount that they are at fault for in your accident. Therefore, accidents involving three or more parties can complicate liability laws even further.
Why is it important to find the right lawyer?
Being the victim of an accident entitles you to recover damages. However, it is not always easy to prove that others are at fault for your accident. For this reason, you need to work with an attorney that has a proven record of successful litigation in cases like yours.
Move forward and receive the compensation you deserve. Tell us about your case by contacting Rafi Law Firm via phone at 404-800-1156 or using our online form. We will take the time to learn about your case and fight for your recovery or the recovery of your loved ones. Contact us today!