Georgia “At-Fault” Driver Laws: Liability and Compensation
After a car accident, most people are looking for a simple answer to the question of who will pay for the damages. Unfortunately, there is not always a black and white answer to this question.
Georgia is a “Fault” state when it comes to auto accidents. This means that if you are injured (or your car is damaged) in an auto accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, you can take action. There are three main ways that you can take action as a car accident victim:
- You can file a claim with your own insurance company
- You can file a claim directly with the other person’s insurance
- You can file a lawsuit in court against the negligent party
Contacting an experienced car accident attorney will help you know which option is right for your situation.
What is Modified Comparative Negligence?
When you are injured from a car accident and file a lawsuit against the negligent party, they might respond by claiming you are fully or partially responsible for the accident. In this situation, Georgia Modified Comparative Negligence plays a role. This law aims to distribute liability when both parties are partially at fault. As long as a driver is less than 50% at fault, as deemed by the court, they are eligible to receive some compensation. The compensation will be reduced in proportion to the percentage of a person who is partially responsible for the accident.
Here is an example of what this looks like in the world:
- Dave was driving through an intersection when he was hit by a driver who ran a red light
- Dave was traveling 15 miles per hour over the speed limit as he drove through the intersection
- The court determined that Dave was 15% at fault for the accident and the other driver was 85% at fault
- Dave’s auto damages totaled to $10,000
- Dave will receive $8500 ($10,000 minus $1,500, or the 15% fault assigned to him)
The court is always required to apply the Modified Comparative Negligence fault rule to auto accident cases where both parties share fault. As you can imagine, it is important to know how much your negligence contributed to an accident in order to receive compensation. If you are only slightly at fault, this rule will work in your favor but if you are proven to be more than 50% at fault, this rule can prevent you from receiving any compensation. This rule can also sometimes come up in insurance negotiations.
How does Modified Comparative Negligence affect Insurance claims?
Under Georgia law, someone who is even 49% responsible for the accident is eligible to receive compensation. Insurance companies are motivated to analyze every detail of an accident and claim in order to prove the opposing party is at least 50% at fault, and therefore ineligible for compensation. Insurance companies will evaluate traffic cameras, forensics, police reports, and anything else they can to prove the opposing party is “at fault”. As a Georgia driver, you must be very careful when speaking with insurance companies because every exchange will be on the record and might be used to build a case designed to keep you from being compensated fairly.
How can I be sure I am compensated fairly after my accident?
It is very helpful to learn how you can be compensated as an auto accident victim. There are a few ways you can protect yourself against the opposing party if you know you are less than 50% responsible:
Keep your own records
- Take your own pictures and notes about the crash and share them as needed with your attorney or the insurance companies.
Call the police straight away
- By calling the authorities directly, you can make sure a police report is filed and your side of the story is on record.
Do not admit fault at the scene of the crash
- It can be tempting to say “I’m so sorry” or “I didn’t mean to” when you are checking on the other driver, but you don’t want to imply that you might be at fault before speaking with your attorney.
Hire an experienced auto accident attorney
- When you hire an attorney who knows how to handle your case, you will have a powerful ally as you face insurance companies and the courts. This will help you obtain the best result and maximum amount of compensation.
If you have been injured or your car has been damaged by another driver’s negligence, you will need to hire an attorney to make sure you are compensated fairly. Call (678) 819-5200 for a free consultation with Anita Lamar, an auto accident attorney who will fight for you.