Car accidents can be very complex, leaving you wondering who is responsible for the collision. Of course, the person who hit you may bear responsibility for the crash but what happens if you were also partially responsible? For example, what if you were driving 5 mph above the speed limit or failed to use your turn signal at an intersection? Does this mean you cannot pursue damages in a lawsuit? Not always due to Georgia’s modified comparative negligence laws.
What is negligence?
Before we can discuss comparative negligence, it is important to understand what negligence is. Negligence is a tort, so it is resolved in civil court rather than criminal court. There are five elements that need to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence to prevail in a negligence claim. First is duty of care. Drivers have a duty to other drivers to drive reasonably under the circumstances.
The second element is breach. This means the driver violated their duty — for example, by crashing into another vehicle.
The third element is actual causation, meaning that but for the defendant’s breach, the crash would not have occurred. The fourth element is proximate causation, meaning that the crash was foreseeable. Finally, there must be actual damages suffered by the plaintiff, such as injuries that led to medical expenses or pain and suffering.
What is modified comparative negligence?
Modified comparative negligence is a law that permits plaintiffs under certain circumstances to receive a modified amount of damages depending on the percentage of fault they carried. Under Georgia law, a plaintiff can recover damages if they are less than 50% at fault for the crash. The amount of damages received will be reduced based on the percentage of fault the plaintiff carried.
For example, under Georgia’s modified comparative negligence laws if the plaintiff was 30% at fault for the collision and they are successful in their negligence lawsuit, they will receive 70% of the total amount of damages they would have received had they not been at fault at all. However, if the plaintiff was 65% at fault, this goes beyond the 50% threshold for recovery and the plaintiff would be barred from being awarded damages at all.
Modified comparative negligence allows plaintiffs who may have made a minor mistake recover if they are in an auto accident with a driver who was more at fault. It is important to have a good understanding of negligence laws in Georgia so you can make informed decisions if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident.