How Negligence in Car Accidents Impacts Compensation

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Human beings make mistakes all the time. Sometimes when we do, we accidentally hurt others. In the case of car accidents, it often happens that one driver is not totally at fault for the accident. Other drivers often contribute to the accident as well. According to the State of Georgia’s At-Fault Driver statutes, your right to be compensated for your injuries will be directly impacted by the degree to which each driver was negligent. In this article we will shine some light on this subject of Comparative Fault Negligence by explaining the factor of “fault.”

Not only will we demonstrate what that means to you in terms of your accident, we’ll show you how Georgia’s fault-based system of laws work to make sure even we mistake-making mortals can still look to the justice system for help when we’re injured – even if we were partly at fault. Before we begin, let’s just imagine this scenario. Tim was on his way home from work and in something of a hurry – he was late for a parent-teacher’s conference. Tim blows right through a stop sign and crashes into Gillian who was traveling through the same intersection going the other way. Gillian didn’t have a stop sign, but she was speeding. She ends up with a knee injury and bruises. Tim comes away with nothing but a badly bent-up pickup truck.

  • What does the term ‘Modified Comparative Fault’ mean, and will it help or hurt me?
  • The police say I’m partly at fault for the car wreck that hurt me – what do I do now?
  • What if the accident involves many cars, as in a chain-reaction freeway pileup?
  • Do I need to see a doctor even if I only have a few cuts and bruises?
  • What evidence do I need to save for my attorney?
  • How can I know how to choose an attorney?
  • What does the term Modified Comparative Fault mean, and will it help or hurt me?

As the police officers investigate the accident above, they realize that both drivers were technically at fault in this accident. Tim failed to stop when he was required to do so. Gillian was not required to stop but she was travelling at 40 mph, 15 miles per hour faster than the speed limit. (If she had been following the speed limit, she might have avoided the accident, but because of her rate of speed she was unable to stop in time.) Here’s where the modified comparative fault law comes into play. It goes like this: Georgia law dictates that somebody injured in an accident can claim economic and non-economic damages even when they are found to be partially responsible for causing the accident. However, if a jury determines that you were 50 percent or more at fault for the accident, you will be prohibited from recovering anything. So, in our case, Tim cannot expect Gillian to fix his truck.

The largest fault was Tim’s failure to stop. Gillian’s speeding was a lesser offense. So, it is ultimately determined that Tim is 85 percent at fault and Gillian is 15 percent at fault. Now 15 percent of the total damages Gillian suffered in terms of lost wages, hospital and doctor bills can be deducted from the total settlement. Gillian’s damages, including those to her car amount to $40,000. Tim’s insurance will pay the total less the 15 percent for which Gillian is responsible. Ultimately, Tim will pay $34,000. (When the lawyers get this all sorted out, the insurance companies will pay accordingly.) Cases where there are more than one at-fault driver it’s a good idea to have your attorney handle the negotiations because they can become complicated.

The police say I’m partly at fault for the car wreck that hurt me – what do I do now? You will proceed with your accident claim just as you would any other claim. Notify your insurance company then call a personal injury attorney. Especially when there is a question about who caused the accident, it’s best to have an attorney who knows how these things play out. If you try to handle it alone, you are apt to be frustrated and ultimately unsatisfied with the settlement. Insurance company lawyers are aces at paying out as little as possible on any claim. What if the accident involves many cars, as in a chain-reaction freeway pileup? Georgia’s Modified Comparative Fault law works in this situation as well.

The person who is determined to be most at fault will pay an appropriate portion of the total damages. In such an accident where there are multiple cars involved, you will want to know if the at fault driver(s) were commercial drivers or working at the time of the collision. If there is an employer, or there is the matter of commercial insurance involved, your need for an attorney increases. It’s best to get all the facts you can and give them to your lawyer sooner rather than later. Big accident scenes get cleaned up quickly. Essential evidence can be destroyed quickly when the scene is on an Interstate Highway or a busy intersection. If you are able to do so without causing harm to yourself or others, take pictures of the scene immediately. Otherwise you should proceed as you would after any other accident:

  • Call 911
  • Stick around to talk to police
  • Seek medical help as soon as possible even if you don’t think you are seriously injured
  • Call your insurance company

Do I need to see a doctor even if I only have a few cuts and bruises? Yes, you do. The problem is, after accidents you may be so full of adrenaline – the hormone your body releases when there is an emergency – that you can’t actually feel whether you’re hurt or not. Very often, injuries can emerge a day or two after the accident. Also you can be bleeding internally and not know it until your condition has deteriorated seriously. It is always a good idea to be examined by a qualified doctor as soon after the accident as possible. If you walked away from an accident scene thinking you’re okay, and then discover a problem later, you can still claim it as damage from the accident, but it may be more difficult to prove. What evidence do I need to save for my attorney? As soon as possible after the accident, write a statement containing where, when, and how the accident happened.

Be as detailed as possible in this statement. Then begin keeping daily journal entries discussing how you feel, what your pain level is, whether or not you were able to go to work, and what your doctor is saying about your injury every time you go to an appointment. Keep all related receipts including those for over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs. Keep your gas receipts, particularly if you must travel any distance to the doctor’s office so that you can be reimbursed for your mileage costs.

All of this – a careful accounting of costs involved – will be especially important as your attorney calculates the cost of your damages. How can I know how to choose an attorney? This can be a difficult decision. Do you need an attorney? We think you do. How can you choose one? We think a couple of factors are especially important. Having a lawyer who is focused on the personal injury field in law is extremely important. The sort of law an attorney practices is one of the most important factors. If your legal representation doesn’t practice personal injury law all day every day, he or she may not know everything necessary to help you win the largest settlement possible. A divorce lawyer may get you the best deal in terms of sorting our custody and personal property matters, but he or she may not know the finer details of PI (Personal Injury) law.

The other critical component in hiring an attorney to handle your car accident claim is the experience level the lawyer has. The longer he or she has been working in personal injury, the more likely it is that nothing will sneak up and destroy your case. Practice over the years enables an attorney to prepare for the clever tricks insurance company attorneys use to minimize your claim and leaving you holding an unsatisfactory compensation check in the end. You could and probably should interview several lawyers. This can be done in the free initial case evaluation most PI lawyers offer. This exercise will give you the benefit of knowing how ‘solid’ your case is. It will also help you to see whether or not the law firm has the resources necessary to work your claim to its most positive result. The size of a lawyer’s staff speaks volumes about how well your legal team will function when crunch time comes.

There are many unseen details in the course of generating a settlement and it takes a team of dedicated legal experts to make it happen well. If you or someone you love has been hurt in an automobile accident, even if you might have been partially at fault, you should at least discuss the matter with a qualified attorney. The laws of the State of Georgia are in place to be sure you don’t come away from an accident caused by somebody else’s negligence with less money and a poorer quality of life. You should examine your rights before you make any decision about what to do.

Cite this paper

How Negligence in Car Accidents Impacts Compensation. (2021, Mar 28). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/how-negligence-in-car-accidents-impacts-compensation/

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