Have you heard of the term contributory negligence? When you suffer a car accident in Augusta, GA, you may be able to recover compensatory damages. However, an important thing to consider in a car accident claim is fault or negligence. The determination of fault in a car accident has a direct bearing on whether or not you can recover any compensation at all.
Different states have different rules regarding how the fault in a car accident affects you ability to seek damages. Legally, the more you are at fault in an accident, the harder it is for you to get damages.
Georgia has its own contributory negligence laws in place that determine the actual payout in any Augusta car accident claim. Here is a look at how fault works in such claims and how the negligence laws apply.
Determining Fault in a Car Crash
A number of factors are used to determine fault in a car accident claim. Fault may be assigned to one or more of the involved parties. When more than one party is found at fault, a percentage of fault is assigned to each.
For instance, if you were speeding and a second car ran a red light through an intersection to hit you, both may be found at fault. In such a case, the fault will be distributed among both negligent parties. As your negligence was less severe, you may be assigned a smaller portion of fault, such as 10% or 20%. The other party that ran the red light committed a more serious act of negligence, so their share of fault may be 80% or 90%.
Once fault has been assigned, Georgia’s contributory negligence laws come into play. These laws then determine whether or not you can recover damages, and if so, the amount of damages. Here is a look at these.
Georgia’s Contributory Negligence Laws
Georgia follows a modified comparative negligence rule which is largely defined in Georgia Code Section 51-12-33. This is in contrast to a pure comparative negligence rule. In pure comparative negligence, the law allows you to recover compensation no matter your percentage of fault. So, for instance, if you are 99% at fault in an accident, you can still legally recover 1% of compensatory damages. The pure form of the rule is usually beneficial for the plaintiffs in a car crash claim.
However, Georgia’s modified comparative negligence rule works differently. As per this rule, you can recover damages only so far as your percentage of fault is less than 50%. If you are found to be 49% or less at fault, you can still seek compensation under the state laws. If you are found 50% or more at fault, the law bars you from recovering any compensation at all.
Impact of Contributory Negligence On Your Claim
This rule has important consequences for any car crash claim filed in Georgia. Insurance companies may first try to prove that you are more than 49% at fault. This is done so that you are legally barred from filing the claim in the first place. The insurer may bring up evidence, witness statements, and other materials to enhance your negligence in the eyes of the law and achieve this.
Even when this is clear that you can’t be barred from seeking damages, the insurer will use the same tactics. This is done to somehow increase your percentage of fault, as the more fault is assigned to you, the less is the amount of damages you are entitled to.
This is where you will need professional legal help. You must be able to counter the efforts of the insurer and show that you had as little fault as possible in causing the crash. At one hand, it ensures that you are not legally disqualified from seeking damages at all. At the other hand, it further ensures that you seek a fair amount of damages and your compensation is not unfairly reduced by a wrong estimation of your fault.
Hiring an Augusta Car Accident Lawyer
If you have suffered losses in an Augusta car crash, it is imperative that you get legal help immediately. Georgia’s contributory negligence rule means that even if you were partially at fault, you may still be able to seek damages. However, as noted above, the at-fault driver and the insurance company will do their best to deny or reduce the compensation you deserve.
Here at Ted Greve & Associates, we work with Augusta car accident victims to ensure that they receive a fair settlement from the insurer. Reach out to us today to book a free consultation with our attorneys and get the ball rolling on your claim.