When we meet with potential clients, they usually tell us what happened and why they need a car accident lawyer. If they’ve been in a car accident, they often tell us that the crash was the other driver’s fault. It’s rare that our clients admit that they may have played a role in their accident. However, what we have learned is that rarely is one party ever 100% at fault.
Usually, both drivers are responsible for a car crash. We make sure our clients understand this because it will affect how much their case is worth. Our Albany car accident lawyers can only get our clients damages if they can prove the other driver was at fault. This means we need to prove negligence.
In this article, we’ll discuss how our Albany car accident attorneys determine fault. We’ll also talk about what can happen if you’re found to be partially at fault. If you still have questions after reading this article, call us so you can schedule your free, initial consultation. One of our experienced injury lawyers in Albany, Georgia will sit down and answer any questions you may have.
Before You Collect Damages, You Need to Prove Negligence
The best way to prove fault is by demonstrating negligence. This is the standard most civil courts require in car accident lawsuits. The insurance company will use the same standard.
To demonstrate negligence, you must show the following elements:
Duty of Care
It’s not hard to prove this element of negligence. All drivers owe a duty of care to other people on the road. This includes obeying all traffic laws. It also involves using common sense. A good test is to ask if a reasonable person would have acted in the same way as the defendant. If they would not have, then there is a good chance the other driver has breached this duty.
Breach of Duty
Your Albany car accident attorney will also have to show the other driver breached the duty of care. This means you need to prove that the defendant did something they shouldn’t have. This can include anything from breaking the law to not registering their car on time.
Your lawyer will rely on the police report to help them with this element. This is why it’s so important that you call 911 after your crash, no matter how minor it may have been.
We always try to explain to our clients that it isn’t enough that they were involved in a motor vehicle accident. If you didn’t suffer some sort of injury, you can’t sue the defendant. Typically, we use medical records to show physical injuries. When it comes to economic damages, we submit copies of receipts and outstanding bills.
You must prove that your injuries were caused by the defendant’s breach of duty This is where things can become difficult. If you didn’t go to the hospital right away, the defendant’s lawyer will claim something other than the crash caused your injuries.
For example, if you wait two days to see a doctor, they’ll argue that you were hurt in some other way during the 2-day intervening period. This can hurt your case. That’s why we always tell our clients to go to the emergency room immediately following their crash.
If your Albany car accident attorney can prove these 4 elements, it’ll help you prove fault.
The Defendant’s Lawyer Will Argue That You Caused the Crash
While your Albany injury lawyer is attempting to gather the evidence to prove fault, the other driver’s attorney is doing the same thing. Their job is to show that you caused the accident. This is why so much comes down to what your attorney can prove.
If you didn’t call the cops, you won’t have a police report to help determine fault. Likewise, if you didn’t go to the hospital, it’ll be hard to prove you were injured. The last thing you want to do is make it a “he said, she said” case. Nobody ever wins in that situation.
In Georgia, if you’re found to be partially at fault for your accident, the court will reduce your damages. The reduction will be equal to your percentage of fault. The main reason for this is that Georgia follows something called the comparative negligence rule.
Under Georgia’s comparative negligence rule, a plaintiff can still recover damages if they are less than 50% at fault. Just keep in mind – your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault. This means that if your damages were $500,000, and you were found to be 30% at fault, your damages will be reduced by $150,000.
The good news is that your lawyer is well aware of this. They will prepare for settlement negotiations with this in mind. Since there’s a good chance the defendant will argue you were at fault, your lawyer will make a compromise and say that, even if you were, the settlement more than makes up for that.
Your Car Accident Attorney Will Likely Settle Your Case
There’s always the chance that you may be found to be partially at fault. This is why your attorney will go into settlement negotiations with a rebuttal to this claim. For example, if the defendant says they think you were 20% at fault, your lawyer will offer to reduce your total claim by 20%. If the defendant agrees to settle for 80%, that’s a win for you.
Of course, your Albany car accident attorney will not admit that you were at fault. They will simply use the defendant’s argument against them. It almost makes it impossible for the defendant to argue that you deserve any less than the 80% responsibility they have admitted.
Contact an Experienced Albany Car Accident Lawyer Right Away
If you were involved in any sort of motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to damages. We recommend that you call and speak with a skilled Albany injury attorney sooner rather than later.
When you call, you can schedule your free, initial consultation. Sit down with a car accident lawyer who’s handled dozens of cases just like yours. You don’t want to be at a disadvantage by representing yourself when the defendant has a lawyer. Since you don’t have to pay anything upfront, you don’t have anything to lose.
Call today and set up a date and time that works for you.