To recover money in a personal injury case, you must be able to prove 1) the other person was negligent and 2) that their negligence led to your accident (also known as causation). Negligence means the person failed to exercise their duty of care to keep others from harm. If that person is negligent, they are also at fault for the accident and liable for your injuries and other damages.
But what if you are partially at fault for the accident? Are you still entitled to compensation for your damages? The answer to these questions is where—in certain states like Georgia—the modified comparative fault rule comes into play.
What is Modified Comparative Fault?
If someone is 100 percent at fault for an accident, they are legally liable for all damages. That includes the costs of your injuries, any property damage, and other expenses you face as a victim of the incident.
In the past, if you held any portion of fault for the accident, you would be barred from any financial compensation. But now that Georgia has the modified comparative fault rule, you may still be able to recover damages for your accident.
Modified comparative fault means that if you have damages from an accident and are less than 50 percent at fault, you can recover money based on your degree of fault. This is based on modified comparative negligence, which distributes damages in proportion with how much each party is at fault.
For example; say you’re in a car accident:
- The other driver is mostly to blame for the accident, but they were able to prove you were partially to blame because you were speeding
- The other driver is found to be 90% of fault, and you 10 percent at fault
- If your damages total $10,000, the other person will only have to pay $9,000 of your damages—90 percent of the total because they are 90% at fault
- You would then be responsible for the remaining 10% of your damages, based on your percentage of fault
The 50% Bar Rule
As mentioned above, modified comparative fault only applies if you are less than 50% at fault for the accident. If you hold 50% or more of the fault, you won’t be able to recover any damages. This is the 50% bar rule, which Georgia and 11 other states follow, that allows victims to still recover damages even if they hold a degree of negligence.
Modified comparative negligence can be very beneficial for accident victims, but it also encourages insurance companies to look for tiny details that could unfairly assign blame. That’s why it’s a good idea to work with a personal injury lawyer who can help you prove the other person was completely at fault.
Other Types of Comparative Fault
While Georgia follows the modified comparative fault rule, some other states hold different comparative fault standards:
Pure Contributory Negligence
Under a pure contributory negligence jurisdiction, you would not be able to recover anything if you held even a small amount of fault in the accident. For example; if the other person is found to be 95% at fault and you hold only five percent of the fault, you would still not receive compensation.
Pure Comparative Fault
In contrast with modified comparative fault where you can only recover damages if you’re less than 50% at fault, the pure comparative fault rule would allow you to recover at any percentage of fault.
For example, even if you held 99 percent of the fault for your accident and the damages were $100,000, you would still be entitled to recover one percent ($1,000) under a pure comparative fault jurisdiction.
If you are in Georgia, modified comparative fault is the rule. So, if you were injured in a car accident or other personal injury accident, it’s in your best interest to contact a good lawyer who understands modified comparative negligence. They can help you build a case that will ideally prove the other person was fully at fault—or at least make sure you aren’t blamed for anything that wasn’t your doing.
An attorney can also make sure the at-fault person’s insurance company doesn’t try to blame you or deny your claim for unfair reasons. You’ll want to make sure any modified comparative fault rule is used for your advantage.
Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer for Free Today
Need help understanding the modified comparative fault rule or how it applies to your case? John Foy & Associates can help. We work exclusively with personal injury victims, and we know how to build a strong case. We’re not afraid to “strong arm” the insurance companies to fight for your right to full recovery. For a FREE consultation to discuss your case and create a plan for success, call us today at 404-400-4000, or complete the form on this page to get started.