When a car accident occurs in the state of Georgia, the driver who’s at fault is responsible for any property damage or injuries that occur as a result.
At the other end of the spectrum, the party that suffered damages has the right to pursue financial compensation by filing a claim for compensation with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, car accidents are rarely a one-sided affair. In many cases, both parties can be found partially to blame for an accident.
If you’re partially at fault, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t pursue a claim. Instead, the courts will look at each party’s degree of fault and assign a percentage of responsibility to each. Your compensation could be reduced by the amount that you’re found responsible for, but you may still be able to receive compensation.
Georgia follows a modified comparative fault rule when determining liability in car accidents. This means that both parties involved in a collision can share the responsibility. However, an injured driver can only recover if they’re less than 50% at fault for the accident. Not 50%, not 51% – 49% or less.
If you’re found to be less than 50% at fault for the accident, you’ll be eligible to pursue a claim for compensation — but your financial award will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you.
For example, if you’re found to be 20% at fault for the accident and are seeking $100,000 in compensation, your final award will be reduced to $80,000 ($100,000 minus 20%). And because the other driver has more than 50% responsibility for the accident, in this case, they’re unable to recover damages from you.
Courts determine fault in car accident cases based on evidence like police reports, witness statements, accident reconstruction reports, and more. The exact percentage of fault is calculated based on factors like speed, visibility, distracted driving, maintenance, and other elements demonstrated by the evidence.
The goal of the modified comparative fault rule is to ensure that both parties are held accountable for their actions while also ensuring that the party who suffered damages will receive compensation. This system is typically beneficial for victims as it acknowledges that the accident likely wouldn’t have happened if the other driver hadn’t acted negligently.
Keep in mind, though, that the courts may not always assign fault correctly. While this would only result in a slightly lower settlement in clear-cut cases, the consequences can be dire when the division of fault is closer to 50-50, and a simple misinterpretation of the facts could tip the scale just slightly over the edge.
All it takes is being assigned 51% of the blame to be unable to pursue a claim for compensation, even though you were close to being considered not at fault, and you’d be stuck with the entire cost of damages. Similarly, both parties could be assigned 50-50 fault — an outcome that would leave neither party with a financial award.
Few car accident cases involve 100% fault on one side and 0% on the other, and it’s highly likely that you are partially to blame for your crash. However, Georgia’s comparative fault system means that a wide range of outcomes is possible for car accident cases — and with the right attorney in your corner, you can use that to your advantage.
Assigning fault is rarely straightforward, and a case that seems certain to be settled in one party’s favor may end up with a much different outcome if the other party presents unexpected evidence. Whether you suspect that you were mostly at fault or were minimally responsible, an experienced attorney can help you present the evidence in a positive light and maximize your potential financial award.
If you’re ready to begin exploring your legal options, reach out to our Macon car accident lawyer. Call (478) 216-1664 to schedule your free consultation.