In most states, if you experience an injury, you will be able to recover monetary damages for that injury. Whether your case goes to trial or whether your case settles before a jury trial, you will receive some payment for your injury. However, if you had any role in contributing to your injury, then your recovery will be decreased by how much responsibility you had.
Most states have a form of “contributory negligence” which examines what percent, if any at all, you had in causing your injury.
Some states say that if you had any fault for your injury, you cannot win. It’s a complete bar to recovery. Some states say that if you had any fault, you can still recover. The State of Georgia uses a system called “modified comparative negligence” which means that if your own actions are found to be 50% or more responsible for your accident/injury, you will not be able to recover for your accident/injury. If you are determined to be less than 50% responsible, your settlement/verdict will take into account your amount of fault and reduce it from the award.
O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33 “Apportionment of damages in actions against more than one person according to the percentage of fault of each person”, subsection (g), says that “…the plaintiff shall not be entitled to recover any damages if the plaintiff is 50 percent or more responsible for the injury or damages claimed.”
Let’s take an example. Say you are a pedestrian walking in a street. And you choose to walk across the road, but not in a crosswalk. And say you walk when you thought it was safe, but there was a car that was speeding and hit you. Let’s presume you have to have surgeries to repair a broken bone. If a jury decides that you should be awarded $500,000, and the jury assigns you 25% responsibility because they feel you were partially negligent as you shouldn’t have walked across the road outside of a crosswalk, then your actual recovery will be $375,000.
Insurance companies know this law. And they try and use this law to apportion some portion of blame on injured folks. That is why it is important you explain to your lawyer every detail and every fact of your case. A well-educated attorney will do the legwork and gather the evidence from witnesses, surveillance cameras, officers, and medical professionals to build a strong case.
As a victim of an injury or accident, you have legal rights that insurance companies will not tell you about. If you would like to talk about the facts of your case, please call us at 404-JUSTICE (404-587-8423) or send us an email at email@example.com.