If you are under the impression that you aren’t able to recover damages due to having partial responsibility or fault for the incident, you aren’t alone. Many believe that they cannot recover any of the damages if they are partially at fault. This belief isn’t usually the case. This article will review how Georgia (and many other states) handle personal injury cases and how it pertains to the parties at fault.
What is a Comparative Negligence Rule?
Several states follow pure comparative negligence, strict contributory negligence, or a modified negligence rule when determining fault and calculating damages. These rules stipulate what damages are awarded and to whom, based on who is at fault for the incident that took place, whether that be a car accident or a slip and fall.
In some states, you can recover a small portion of the damages awarded even if you are primarily at fault based on the pure comparative negligence rule. In other states, you likely can’t recover any damages if you are minimally at fault (strict contributory negligence).
Georgia follows the comparative negligence rule. Comparative negligence means that the percentage of fault is determined for all parties involved in the incident. As long as you are not found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident, you can recover some of the damages.
For example, perhaps there are two people involved in an accident. Significant injuries or damages are at stake, to the tune of $100,000. Person A is found to be 75% at fault, and Person B is found to be 25% at fault for the cause of the accident. Person B can be awarded up to $75,000 of the total damages based on the fact that they were partially responsible, at 25%. In this case, the total damages are reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault, $25,000.
What Can I Do to Protect Myself after a Personal Injury has Occurred Immediately?
First and foremost, if you need medical attention, you should seek this immediately. If you have someone with you, you can delegate some of the steps below to obtain the medical care you need promptly.
Regardless of where or how the incident occurred, it is imperative to have thorough and accurate documentation. Documentation can include pictures or videos of the location. Photos and videos can help establish the environmental conditions that led to the incident. Weather, road conditions, sidewalk conditions, lighting, and more are all things to consider when determining how the incident occurred in the first place and who may or may not be at fault for the event.
Gathering witness contact information is essential so you can follow up later and request their assistance should you need it for a case. Their account immediately following the incident can be recorded or written down also to help avoid not being able to reach them at a later date.
What Other Steps are Important to Take?
Reporting the accident promptly is essential so the proper people are aware. Whether the police or the property owners, it is crucial to ensure they are aware of the incident.
Moving forward, it can be detrimental to assume responsibility or fault for the accident or what led to it. It is essential to delegate conversations with insurance companies or property owners to those with experience handling accident situations, so you aren’t inadvertently admitting guilt and interrupting your chances at recovering damages.
Keep thorough documentation of any medical appointments, time away from work, and other expenses incurred due to the accident. It can also be beneficial to keep a journal of pain levels or how you are feeling immediately after the injury and how you are feeling as you are healing and following medical treatment instructions.
Is There a Limit to How Much Can Be Awarded on Personal Injury Cases?
Some states place a maximum, or a cap, on the damages awarded in a personal injury case. There is typically a standard maximum amount based on the injuries sustained or the parameters of the incident. For example, a TBI or Traumatic Brain Injury may have a maximum amount that can be awarded vs. a fractured bone.
Currently, there is no cap on the amount awarded in personal injury cases in Georgia. Judges still have ultimate discretion and can place a cap on damages in specific cases. Still, there isn’t a standard cap or limit on damages awarded that needs to be followed in Georgia.
What is the Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Cases in Georgia?
The statute of limitations on personal injury cases in Georgia is two years. This typically means two years from the date of the accident is when the timeline begins. There are some exceptions, however, such as if a government agency (either state or federal) or employee was involved in the injuries. In some cases, these incidents will require a different timeline.
It is important to ensure that you abide by the timeline because if you file a claim outside the statute of limitations, it can be denied regardless of how compelling your case may be.
Rely on an Experienced Lawyer.
An experienced personal injury lawyer will efficiently guide you through the process and help to protect yourself and your family from start to finish. Call us at (706) 954-6745 to find out how we can best assist you.