Understanding and Navigating Georgia Comparative Negligence

Georgia Comparative Negligence

Not everything is black and white.

In short, it’s not always clear who is at fault in many areas of life, and that includes car crashes.

So how does a Georgia court decide who is at fault when it comes to car accidents?

And what happens when more than one person is at fault?

Comparative negligence is a legal concept used to assess fault when multiple people share the blame for an accident.

Because Georgia is a fault state for auto insurance claims, determining which driver is at fault in an accident is an important step in car wreck cases. 

Sometimes more than one person contributes to an accident. Sometimes even the victim shares some blame.

Georgia car accident laws use a modified comparative negligence model to decide how much the victim of a car accident can receive in these situations.

What Is Negligence?

Negligence is a legal term for when someone causes an injury to another by breaching a duty of care. A duty of care is the responsibility we have to act in a way that doesn’t hurt other people.

Drivers have a duty to other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians with whom they share the roadway.

A person breaches a duty of care when they act less carefully than a reasonable person would be expected to. For example, a reasonable person would be expected to obey traffic laws.

So if someone violates a traffic law and hurts someone, this could be considered negligence.

How Does Georgia Comparative Negligence Work
When More than One Person Is Responsible for an Accident?

Let’s say several cars are driving down the freeway. One car changes lanes abruptly, causing another vehicle to swerve and hit a third car. Who is responsible for the third driver’s injuries?

Under Georgia negligence law, each driver would share some responsibility. The amount they pay will be equal to their percentage of blame for the third driver’s injuries.

So if each of the drivers were 50% responsible, they would each pay 50% of the damages.

How Does Georgia Comparative Negligence Work
When an Accident Victim Is Partially at Fault?

Now let’s imagine that the same accident happened at night and that the third driver’s headlights were turned off.

Perhaps the second driver swerved into the third driver’s lane only because she could not see the third car. Now, who is responsible?

There are several ways courts around the country may treat a case where the victim shares some blame for a crash. Georgia follows the modified comparative negligence rule.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence says that a victim who shares any blame for an accident can’t be compensated by other drivers. So, if the victim was even 1% to blame, they are out of luck.

Pure Comparative Negligence

Pure comparative negligence gives an accident victim some compensation from other at-fault drivers no matter how much blame the victim shares. So even if the victim were 99% to blame, they could recover 1% of their damages from the other driver.

Modified Comparative Negligence

Modified comparative negligence allows compensation for the accident victim only if the victim’s fault is 49% or less (or in some states, 50% or less).

The victim’s compensation is then reduced by the percentage of their fault. For example, if the victim were 10% to blame for the accident, then they could recover for 90% of their damages.

Georgia negligence law follows the modified comparative negligence model. If the victim is 49% or less at fault, they can be compensated by the other driver’s insurance based on the other driver’s percentage of fault.

Sounds Complicated. How Can I Make Sure I Am Compensated for My Accident?

The experienced car accident attorneys at Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C. understand Georgia comparative negligence law and can help you with your claim. Call us at (706) 354-4000 or message us online.

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