Types of Comparative Fault and Their Effect On Your Settlements

Car accidents are some of the life-changing instances where you do not have much control. Say, you live in Atlanta, Georgia, and have set out to meet the girl of your dreams for a date in Miller Union. You turn left to visit your favorite gift store to buy her a gift, and bam! A speeding car hits you at the turn, and you have a near-eath experience, with a broken rib and a fractured left arm.

Expect significant changes in the coming months. Everything, from your social life to your professional life will be negatively impacted. However, you believe that it was not your fault and want to sue the other car’s driver. You have every right to take the legal path and seek compensation. However, you have to exercise caution. Many states in the US, like yours, which is Georgia, follow the comparative fault rule in settling cases.

Here, your compensation depends directly on the extent of your fault in the accident. In this blog post, we will talk about the three different classes of comparative fault rule exercised in the US and how each type affects your settlements.

What is Comparative Fault/Negligence?

Defense attorneys will exert every effort to reduce their client’s liability.

Here, the comparative fault rule comes in handy. It’s a system that assesses the accountability and carelessness of all parties involved in the incident. In the event of a car collision involving two players, the fault is allocated based on these findings of causality. This enables them to settle claims accordingly.

Damages are awarded proportionate to the determined levels of negligence. Even if one party is considered less responsible, they still bear a portion of the blame. As a result, their settlement amount will be reduced.

Pure Comparative Fault

In states where this doctrine is applicable, the plaintiff can be assigned 99% of the fault and still fight for compensation for the 1% that was the defendant’s.  In simple terms, under this system, an individual’s compensation is directly proportional to their percentage of fault.

As an example, a plaintiff is found to be guilty at around 30% for an accident, and the total damages amount to $100,00. In the event of pure comparative fault, they would be entitled to a settlement of $70,000.

Around 12 states in the US follow this system, including Alaska, California, Florida, and New York. It is one of the most favorite arsenals of the defending legal team. They can go to all lengths possible and use your actions against you to reduce the settlement you receive.

According to the Atlanta Personal Injury Law Firm, always resort to the legal expertise of a personal injury attorney while claiming compensation in such cases. They are trained professionals who know every trick up the opposition party’s sleeve and will fight for the most just compensation for you.

Modified Comparative Fault

There are a few subtle differences between this partial fault rule and the one we covered in the previous section. Nevertheless, its main objective remains to ensure that every individual receives fair compensation.

This fault rule also allows for compensation for damages, even if there is some shared responsibility for the accident. However, there is a very distinct clause you have to consider here. If you are found to be more than 50% or 51% responsible, depending on the state, your chances of receiving settlements are reduced considerably.

Two types of modified comparative faults exist—the 50% rule and the 51% rule. Colorado and Georgia are among the states that adhere to the former. If it is proven that you bear anywhere from 50% or less fault, you have hope of recovering damages. However, if you find yourself with 51% or more to blame, luck is not on your side.

Like the example we began with, if you reside in Georgia, say in Atlanta, you need to be careful when fighting legally for compensation. You need to have concrete proof and a very efficient Atlanta car accident lawyer to fight your case.

Unlike the pure comparative rule, you do not have much scope for faltering. You need to somehow prove that the defendant was much more involved in the accident than you.

States such as Illinois and Texas have a more lenient approach to the 51% rule. In this system, you remain eligible for compensation as long as your fault does not exceed 50%. However, once you surpass the 51% threshold, you become ineligible.

Contributory Negligence

This is by far the harshest process. Imagine you are walking on a broken sidewalk in Baltimore while busy with your phone. You trip, fall, and incur injuries. 

If the city proves you were slightly negligent, you won’t see a dime for your injuries, no matter how poorly the city maintained the sidewalk. The same goes for Charlotte and Richmond—if you contributed even a smidge to your injury, you’re out of luck.

Contributory negligence is, more often than not, perceived as gravely unjust to plaintiffs. It provides defendants with an incredible motivation to prove that you were, in some way or the other, responsible. Your compensation can take a huge hit if the defendant can demonstrate even a slight degree of carelessness on your part.

There are a few exceptions, like the “last clear chance” doctrine. This rule holds that if the defendant had the final say and could have prevented the accident but failed, they can still be held responsible. But, this is a very complex and unfavored maze to navigate.

The Impact on Your Settlement

When handling a personal injury case, various factors come into play in determining liability and the extent of responsibility. Everything hinges on the specific details of the situation, the actions taken by both parties and the evidence presented.

Having strong evidence and persuasive testimony is crucial in determining the outcome of your case. These increase your likelihood of persuading the fault percentage to lean in your favor. It’s in your best interest to keep that percentage as low as possible on your side.

Now, if you want to max out your settlement under different comparative fault systems, you need to have a legal professional in your corner who knows how to navigate these tricky waters.

A seasoned personal injury attorney will be your secret weapon. They will gather all the evidence you need and craft a persuasive case. Also, they are trained to go toe-to-toe with the defandant’s attorney to make sure you get every penny you deserve. Your lawyer will also be a total expert in the specific comparative fault laws in your state.

At the end of the day, having a legal expert on your side can make a world of difference in scoring a sweet settlement, even when a comparative fault is working against you. So, don’t go it alone—get yourself a top-notch attorney and watch them work their magic!

By Admin

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