Can I File a Car Accident Claim If I Was Partly at Fault?

While some car accidents are relatively black-and-white, most involve some gray area. It is relatively common for multiple parties to share some portion of the blame for an accident. But what happens if you were partly at fault? Can you still file a car accident claim? Will you still be able to recover compensation for your medical bills and other damages if you were injured in the crash? Who is responsible for paying for your vehicle repairs?

The state of Georgia follows what is known as the rule of comparative negligence (also known as “comparative fault”). Under this rule, people who are partially at fault for an accident are still permitted to file civil claims and seek compensation for their damages—with certain important caveats.

Continue reading to learn more about your rights after a car accident, including your right to compensation if you were partially at fault. You can also contact Busch, Reed, Jones & Leeper, P.C. directly to speak to one of our experienced Marietta car accident lawyers for free today about your case.

Understanding Georgia’s Modified Comparative Fault Rule

As previously mentioned, Georgia follows the rule of comparative negligence. Specifically, the state follows a rule of modified comparative negligence. This has important implications regarding your ability to recover compensation after an accident for which you are partially to blame.

There are two types of comparative negligence/fault:

  • Pure Comparative Fault: Under this type of comparative fault, the percentage of fault does not play a role in a person’s ability to recover compensation—as long as it is less than 100%. Even if someone was 99% at fault for an accident, they can still file a claim for compensation.
  • Modified Comparative Fault: With modified comparative fault, which is what Georgia follows, the percentage of fault does matter when it comes to a person’s ability to file a claim. You can only file a car accident claim if you are found to be less than 50% at fault for the crash.

So, for example, say you were hit by someone who was distracted sending a text message, causing them to blow through a stop sign. But a witness at the scene says you didn’t come to a full and complete stop either. The insurance provider for the other driver might try to argue that you were partially at fault for the accident, despite their policyholder’s unlawful act of texting while driving. Should the case proceed to trial, the jury will likely assign you a percentage of fault in the accident. This is important, as it not only plays a key role in your ability to recover compensation for your damages, but it also affects the total compensation you can recover.

How Fault Affects Your Recovery

If a jury decides that you were partially at fault—but less than 50% at fault—for an accident, you can still recover compensation for your damages from the other driver’s insurance company. However, the amount you can recover will be based on your percentage of fault.

The total recovery you will be eligible to receive will be reduced by the same percentage of fault the jury assigns to you. Using the above example involving the texting driver, if the jury determines that you did not, in fact, come to a full and complete stop and, therefore, you are 30% to blame for the accident, your total recovery will be reduced by 30%. This means that you will only be able to recover up to 70% of the total amount you would have otherwise received if you were not to blame whatsoever for the accident.

Say you sustain $10,000 in damages, meaning the cost of your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other economic and non-economic losses amounts to $10,000. Because the jury has determined you were 30% at fault for the accident, you would only be able to recover up to 70%, or $7,000, of that $10,000.

What If I Disagree That I Was Partially at Fault?

Insurance companies use a lot of tactics to avoid paying out rightful claims. One of the most common ways they will try to do this is by shifting blame from their policyholders to the other parties involved. However, shared negligence isn’t always supported by the actual facts of the case.

Continuing with the same example as above, you may disagree with the witness who stated that you did not fully stop at the stop sign—and evidence might back you up. It’s important to work with an experienced car accident attorney who can properly and thoroughly investigate your case to determine exactly what happened and who was at fault. To do this, your attorney might work with a team of accident reconstructionists and other experts who know how to evaluate the various factors involved in the crash. Your attorney might obtain critical evidence, such as additional witness statements or security footage from nearby buildings, to build a strong case in your favor. All of this can be used to dispute the insurance company’s claim that you were partially at fault for the accident.

Remember, you do not have to accept the insurance company’s first settlement offer; you do not have to accept subsequent offers either if they are unjust. Your attorney will be able to advise you on your options and help you determine the best course of action. If you disagree with the insurance company’s assessment of your shared negligence, your attorney can proceed with your case to trial. When this happens, the jury (or judge) will make an official determination on your percentage of shared fault (if any).

Contact Us Today to Learn More

If you would like to learn more about how Georgia’s modified comparative negligence rule could affect your car accident claim, or if you need professional legal assistance with any aspect of your case, reach out to Busch, Reed, Jones & Leeper, P.C. today. Our Marietta car accident lawyers can go over your specific situation and inform you of your legal rights.

There is no cost for a consultation with our team. Contact us online or call (770) 629-0154 to get started!