How Does Georgia's Comparative Negligence Law Affect My Case?
If you are thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit, there are two legal concepts you need to understand: negligence and comparative negligence.
Below, our experienced Savannah personal injury lawyers explain these two concepts and how they affect your case. We also discuss Georgia's comparative negligence law and how it can affect the amount of compensation you recover from your lawsuit.
If you were injured because of someone else's carelessness, contact our attorneys today for a free legal consultation.
What is Negligence?
Most personal injury lawsuits are based on the theory of negligence, which is defined as the failure of someone to use reasonable care to help prevent an injury to someone else.
If you want to recover compensation for a case based on negligence, you and your attorney need to establish the four elements of negligence:
- Duty of care – This is a legal obligation to act with reasonable care to prevent someone else from getting injured. Our attorneys must show the at-fault party owed you a duty of care when your injury occurred.
- Breach of duty of care - We need to prove the at-fault party did not fulfill the duty of care because he or she failed to use reasonable care.
- Breach of duty of care was the proximate cause of injury - In other words, your injury would not have occurred unless there was a breach of the duty of care.
- There were injuries - Finally, we need to show you suffered physical, mental, emotional or financial injuries because of the breach of duty of care.
The fundamental part of the concept of negligence is the duty of care. The duty of care owed from one person to another depends on the situation where the injury occurred.
For instance, other drivers have a duty of care to stop at a stop sign. Property owners may have a duty of care to salt the ice on a sidewalk to prevent pedestrians from slipping and falling.
Your Negligence Affects How Much You Can Recover
There are some cases where one party is the only one at fault for a personal injury. However, there are also situations where the victim's actions played a role in causing his or her injuries.
Georgia has a system of modified comparative negligence to govern these situations. Under Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 51-12-33, if you are determined to be 50 percent or more responsible for your injury, you cannot recover any compensation from a lawsuit.
If your negligence is determined to be 50 percent or less, you can still recover damages, but only in proportion to your percentage of fault. In other words, if you were 40 percent at fault, your compensation award will be reduced by 40 percent.
This law is often applied in car accident cases because victims often play a role in the crash. For example, if someone turns down a side street without using a turn signal and gets hit by a car that ran a stop sign, both drivers may have some responsibility for the crash. If a jury awards the victim $1,000,000 but also determines he was 30 percent responsible for failing to use his or her turn signal, the award would be reduced by 30 percent to $700,000.
Contact an Attorney for Legal Help
The personal injury attorneys at Roden Law have expertise in Georgia's comparative negligence law and the tactics insurance companies use to try prevent you from recovering the compensation you deserve.
We will fight to recover the highest compensation possible, including money for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Let us handle the stressful legal work, so you can focus on getting well and moving on with your life.
Schedule a free, no obligation consultation to learn what legal options are available. When working with our firm, there are no upfront fees and we are only paid if you recover compensation.