When we first meet with a new client, one of the first things they tell us is that they didn’t cause the accident. It seems really important to them that we believe them. When we broach the idea that they may have been partially at fault, they get upset. We understand why they would feel that way.
However, in almost every case our Columbus accident lawyers handle, our client was somewhat at fault. It may only be 5-10%, but it’s there. The good news is that you can still collect damages in Georgia, even if you were partially at fault. The trick is having seasoned injury lawyers in Columbus be able to prove that the defendant was primarily at fault.
Very Rarely Is One Driver 100% Responsible for the Crash
If you spend enough time watching a person drive, you’ll be able to find something to criticize. The same thing is true when it comes to a car crash. While the defendant may appear at first glance to be primarily at fault, that doesn’t mean you didn’t play a part. For example, imagine that you’re involved in a rear-end collision.
The generally accepted rule is that the rear driver is always at fault in this kind of accident. However, there are times when the front driver may have done something to contribute to the crash. In this example, the plaintiff may have had defective brake lights. If the defendant can prove this, you’ll probably be deemed partially at fault.
Your Columbus Accident Lawyer Will Demonstrate That the Defendant Was Negligent
To overcome the defendant’s claim that you caused the accident, your Columbus accident lawyer will have to prove negligence. This will require that they prove four elements.
Duty of Care
It isn’t hard to prove the defendant owed you a duty of care. All drivers owe a certain duty of care to other motorists. They are responsible for following traffic laws and exercising caution.
Breach of Duty
As long as you can show the other driver didn’t behave the way a reasonable person would have given the circumstances, this won’t be hard. A good example would be submitting proof that they were issued a ticket at the accident scene.
Your injury lawyer in Columbus must also prove that you suffered some sort of injury. This is usually a physical injury. However, you can also submit evidence showing that you suffered a financial loss as well.
Finally, you need to demonstrate that the defendant’s actions caused your injuries. This is why you must go to the hospital immediately after your crash. Otherwise, the defendant will claim that something other than the accident caused your injuries.
Georgia Does Allow Plaintiffs to Collect Damages Even if They Were Partly at Fault
Some states don’t allow you to collect damages if you were partially at fault. However, in Georgia, as in most states, this isn’t the case. You can still collect damages, even if you were partially at fault. The difference is that your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault. This is because Georgia follows something called the modified comparative negligence rule. This is worth discussing a bit more.
Some states follow the contributory negligence rule. In these states, if the defendant can show that you contributed to the crash in any way, shape, or form, you cannot collect damages. Georgia and other states abide by a modified comparative negligence rule. This means you can collect damages as long as you are less than 50% at fault. However, your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
The best way to explain this may be by way of an example. Imagine that somebody smashes into your car. Your Columbus accident attorney sues the defendant for $200,000 in damages. During settlement negotiation, the defendant argues that they have proof that you were partially at fault.
You and the defendant’s lawyer agree, for settlement purposes only, that you were 20% at fault for the accident. This means your damages will be reduced by 20%. Instead of receiving $200,000, you will only be receiving $160,000. This is because your damages were reduced by 20%, or $40,000.
Reach Out to Injury Lawyers in Columbus Sooner Rather Than Later
If you or your loved one have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may have a claim for damages. It all depends on the facts surrounding your case. The best way to know for sure is to talk to a Columbus accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident. If the defendant is able to show that you were partially at fault for your crash, your claim will be affected.
The way the law works in Georgia is that your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault. Not every state is like this. There are some states that prevent plaintiffs from collecting a dime if they were, in any way, responsible for their accident.
If you’re not sure what to do at this point, we suggest you give us a call. You can sit down with one of our seasoned injury lawyers in Columbus and ask them any questions you may have. We offer potential clients a free, initial consultation to give them a chance to decide if they want to hire our firm. This also allows us to assess what your case is worth and whether there is enough evidence to support it.
We recommend you call our office as soon as possible after your accident. You have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit in Georgia. It’s important to start collecting evidence right after the accident.
Since the initial consultation is free and we only get paid if we win your case, you have nothing to lose.