What Is Comparative Negligence in a Car Accident Case?

comparative negligence

If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, comparative negligence can stand in your way of getting full or any compensation. Unfortunately, unless you can prove your case well enough, an at-fault driver can, to some extent, get away with carelessness after causing your injury. To prevent this, you must make sure to retain the services of the best Atlanta personal injury lawyer

Your lawyer will also explain how comparative negligence can affect your case. Receiving less than you deserve in a personal injury case can be heart-wrenching. Not only is it painful to lose potential compensation, but you deserve to see reckless drivers take responsibility for their actions. 

For these reasons, you must have comprehensive knowledge of comparative negligence. This article explains the concept of comparative negligence and its associated elements. 

What Is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence is a concept of law that acknowledges the possibility of shared fault in an accident. Comparative negligence creates room for situations where the defendant isn’t completely at fault for a mishap. 

When car accidents occur, there are numerous cases where both the plaintiff and defendants are to blame for the accident. In such situations, the concept of comparative negligence steps in to hold each party accountable for their role in the crash. Ultimately, comparative negligence can reduce the damages a plaintiff can receive from a personal injury case.

How Does Comparative Negligence Work? 

Comparative negligence compares the degree of fault of the parties involved in a car accident. To make this comparison, each party’s amount of responsibility is quantified in percentages. 

For instance, if two parties, A and B, were involved in a car accident, they could share responsibility for the accident. Party A could be 35% at fault, while party B takes 65%. 

These percentages play a major role in how much compensation party A (the plaintiff) can receive from the personal injury case. The plaintiff’s potential compensation will reduce by their percentage fault. The plaintiff’s ability to sue for damages in Georgia can also be affected. We will see how in a bit.

What Are the Types of Comparative Negligence? An Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer Explains

Several concepts of fault can apply in car accident cases depending on the location of the crash. Every state does not operate the same system. Each state is free to determine what system should apply in its jurisdiction. 

Georgia applies the comparative negligence principle, and there are two types or variations to adopt. These are:

Pure Comparative Negligence 

Pure comparative negligence allows the plaintiff to receive damages even when they are 99% at fault for the car accident. The amount the plaintiff can receive in damages will correspond to their degree or percentage of innocence in the accident. 

For example, if $100,000 in damages is at stake in a car accident case, your degree of fault will reduce this amount as a plaintiff. If you are 25% at fault for the accident, you will receive $75,000 in damages. If you are 95% at fault for the accident, you will receive only $5,000 in damages. Over 15 states operate with this system, including New York and California.

Modified Comparative Negligence 

Under the modified comparative negligence rule, the plaintiff’s ability to recover damages is limited by their degree of fault. Since you will be asking for compensation under Georgia law, you must pay particular attention to understanding how modified comparative advantage works. 

Presently, this rule exists in two variations. These are the 50% and the 51% rule. 

  • 50% Rule

This rule only allows you to claim damages when you are less than 50% at fault for the accident. You cannot claim damages if you are equally at fault for the accident as the defendant. If you are 50% or more at fault for the accident, you lose your right to sue for damages. 

  • 51% Rule 

In this rule, you can only claim damages if you are less than 51% at fault. Simply put, you must not be more at fault for the accident than the defendant. However, unlike the 50% rule, people with 50% fault for the accident can recover compensation under this system. In addition, you can recover compensation even if you are equally at fault for the accident.

Gross/Slight Negligence

Under this rule, every negligent act falls into two categories. These are slight or gross negligence. Slight negligence means that the wrongful action or inaction of the concerned party isn’t severe or intentional. Gross negligence covers all wrongful acts or inactions that are deemed reckless.

The plaintiff in a personal injury case would receive less than their potential compensation if their contribution to the accident were gross. South Dakota is the only state using the gross/slight negligence rule; it t does not apply in Georgia.

What Is the Difference Between Comparative and Contributory Negligence?

Contributory negligence bars any party in a car accident from receiving damages if they contributed to the accident. Under this rule, even a 1% contribution to the accident will cause an injured party to forfeit their rights to compensation. 

In stark contrast, comparative negligence allows at-fault parties to recover compensation to the extent that they are innocent. Unlike the comparative negligence rule, which is more plaintiff-friendly, the contributory negligence rule is the darling of defense attorneys. 

Why Do Some States Use the Comparative Negligence Rule?

States like Georgia that use the comparative negligence rule do so in the spirit of fairness. Many states have opted for comparative negligence for several reasons. 

It is a popular opinion that the contributory negligence rule is extremely harsh and unfair. At-fault parties can easily get off the hook in personal injury cases once they prove that the plaintiff shared some of the blame, no matter how little. Many also argue that the contributory negligence system encourages carelessness on the road. 

Hire an Intelligent Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer at The Weinstein Firm

With Georgia’s modified comparative negligence rule, you risk losing your right to maximum compensation. Proving your innocence in a personal injury/car accident case can be overwhelming, but not when you have intelligent and experienced lawyers. A car accident lawyer makes the difference in any car accident case. 

We understand how painful it is to lose out in a personal injury case at The Weinstein Firm. Thankfully, we aren’t new to the antics of defense attorneys. We have won cases by squashing their arguments and proving our client’s innocence. 

Our Atlanta, GA, car accident attorneys will thoroughly and aggressively prove your innocence and get you the maximum compensation. Book a free initial consultation with us today.

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