Comparative negligence is a term most non-specialists don’t recognize, but it’s crucial in many cases. Georgia is a fault accident state. This means that fault parties will bear the losses from their negligent actions. So, you have to prove the other party’s negligence to recover any damages. A Douglasville personal injury attorney can help you show how the fault party caused your losses. Sometimes, though, both parties contribute to the accident.
When two parties are negligent, recovering compensation thus becomes complicated. The injured party may not know whether they’re eligible for damages. Similarly, they may not also know how much they can recover. This is where the doctrine of comparative negligence comes in. An excellent Douglasville attorney can explain how this principle affects your case.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
The principle of comparative negligence calculates each party’s contribution to a personal injury accident. Then, this calculation helps the court award damages based on the percentage of their contribution. So, the plaintiff can recover compensation even if they were partially responsible. The law reduces their damages based on their contribution, though.
For example, suppose a plaintiff suffered damages worth $10,000. Now, imagine that they contributed 20% to this injury. This means that they can only recover 80% of the judgment or settlement amount. Therefore, the plaintiff will leave with only $8,000.
Georgia uses the modified comparative negligence principle. So, you can only get damages if your percentage of fault is less than the other party’s. We mean that once your contribution exceeds 51%, you’ll lose your right to compensation.
Example of Comparative Negligence
The easiest way to understand comparative negligence is with examples. So, let’s imagine a shopper A poured water on a retail store’s floor. Then the store cleaner was informed of the event but wasted time cleaning it up. However, suppose the cleaner first put up a sign about the slippery floor.
Shopper B may yet walk carelessly or run around on that same spot. If they do, then they can slip and fall. In this case, they can file a premises liability claim against the retail store. However, the store will not bear all the liability. This is because they contributed to the accident through their carelessness.
If they’d been more aware, they’d have seen the warning. Therefore, the doctrine of comparative negligence will evaluate shopper B’s percentage of fault. Then, their damages will be reduced accordingly.
Is Comparative Negligence the Same as Contributory Negligence?
No, comparative negligence and contributory negligence are different concepts. Indeed, American states use both concepts to allocate accident responsibility. However, their effects are different. Comparative negligence merely reduces your recoverable damages, proportionate to your level of fault. On the other hand, contributory negligence bars you from receiving any compensation once you’re at fault.
We mean that even if your contribution is 1%, the court will still deny you damages. Defendants, thus, only have to pin some of the accident’s blame on you. They can then escape paying for your losses. Fortunately, this principle doesn’t apply in Georgia. Only a few American states use this harsh rule.
Does Comparative Negligence Always Apply?
Suppose the principle of comparative negligence applies to all Douglasville personal injury claims. Then, we’ll have instances where the defendant pays less for actions the law should punish. Therefore, a Court of Appeal in Georgia has held that comparative negligence doesn’t apply to intentional torts.
So, the principle cannot protect a defendant that intentionally performed acts that hurt the plaintiff. In addition, comparative negligence will not apply to cases involving wanton or willful conduct. This was the court’s ruling in McEachern v. Muldovan.
Recoverable Damages in Cases Involving Comparative Negligence
Finally, it’s noteworthy that even if you’re partially responsible for your accident, you can still recover the same kind of damages you’d get if the defendant bears the fault. This would include your economic and non-economic losses. You can even get punitive damages in court.
Let the Best Douglasville Personal Injury Lawyers Help You Escape Liability!
Have you been in a Douglasville personal injury accident? If so, then you may be eligible for compensation. Do you think you contributed to the crash? Or is the other party claiming that you were also negligent? If you answer both questions in the affirmative, you need the best Douglasville personal injury attorneys.
Our lawyers at the Law Office of John B. Jackson can evaluate your claim to determine the extent of your contribution, if any. Then, they’ll ensure that the other party doesn’t apportion extra blame to you. This means that you can still get the maximum compensation depending on your percentage of fault. So, call us today for a FREE consultation on your case.