What if I was Partially At-Fault in a Vehicle Accident?
No one likes to be involved in a motor vehicle accident, especially one that causes them serious injury. Still, they happen every day in Georgia and across the country. If you’ve recently been involved in a car accident and were partially at fault, it’s easy to be confused as to whether or not you still merit compensation for serious injuries that you suffered.
More often than not, who was at fault in a motor vehicle accident is a matter of dispute. In fact, it’s not uncommon for both parties to accuse the other party of being wholly at fault. In some cases, you may even share, for example, 25 percent of the blame for the accident, even if it was mostly the other party’s fault.
When this is the case, it’s a common misconception to assume that because you were partially at fault in an accident, you’re not entitled to any compensation for serious injuries that you incurred.
In this article, we’ll discuss how you are often still eligible for compensation even if you were injured in an accident that was partially your fault. We’ll also outline the most important personal injury laws that you should know about for the state of Georgia.
How Is Fault Determined in a Motor Vehicle Accident?
In common law, there is a generally used term called a tort. A tort is a private wrong that is committed by one person against another that causes the other person harm. Someone who commits a tort is called a tortfeasor. Most of the time, when a driver has been intentionally reckless (such as in a drunk driving accident) it’s quite simple to determine who the tortfeasor is. And there is usually only one.
But in everyday fender-benders or typical accidents where negligence can’t be easily pinpointed, it’s not uncommon for multiple parties to be found negligent, and therefore, there are multiple tortfeasors named in these accidents.
These individuals have not intentionally committed a wrong (an intentional wrongful act that harms someone else is called an intentional tort). But in these cases, it’s up to the state law to dictate who will be compelled to pay damages. The state of Georgia has a modified comparative fault rule, which states that if you file a claim for damages against another party because of their negligence in an accident, but are then found to be partially at fault for the accident, the damages you receive will be reduced. In some cases, they can even be eliminated.
As an example, let’s say that someone T-boned your car as you were crossing an intersection. They ran a stop sign, so the majority of the fault was with them. But perhaps you were partially at fault because it was determined that you were going 20 miles above the speed limit as you were crossing the intersection. The ruling may be that you were 25 percent at fault for the accident.
In this case, if you were filing for damages of $10,000, you would not receive this full sum of $10,000. Instead you would receive $10,000 less 25 percent. In other words, you would receive $2,500 less than your original claim: $7,500.
What to Do First if You’re Involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident
The rules are the same for all motor vehicle accidents whether you were partially at fault or not at fault at all. Take these steps in the event of an accident:
1) Call 9-1-1 as soon as possible.
If you can’t make the call, ask someone nearby to call for you. Getting medical assistance immediately is your biggest concern. You will also need to report the accident to the police.
2) Do not admit fault.
It is standard protocol that you do not admit anything at the scene of the accident or thereafter. Do not apologize to the other driver or say anything that could later come back as admitting fault when the accident occurred.
3) Document the accident.
Once you are safe and taken care of medically, it’s time to gather information about what just occurred. You should take as many pictures as possible of the scene, both of the vehicles and of any injuries you may have received as a result of the accident.
If you can, ask anyone who witnessed the accident what they saw, and don’t forget to get their personal information as well. You may need to use them as a witness at a later date, and you’ll need their phone number or email address to get in touch with them.
Finally, get a copy of any medical reports that were created at the scene and a copy of the police accident report. You are entitled to these documents, so it’s okay to ask for them.
4) Contact a personal injury attorney.
Now is when you will also want to contact a personal injury attorney. Proving that you were not completely or even partially at fault for the accident is often not easy. Contacting an experienced personal injury attorney can mean the difference between getting thousands of dollars to pay for your injuries and property damage or having to pay the other party because it was determined that you were the negligent driver.
5) Call your insurance company.
Your car insurance company should be notified in the event of an accident, and you’ll need to have information on the other driver before you call. Get their full name, phone number, and address. You will also need the name of their insurance company, their policy number, and their insurance company’s phone number as well.
Just remember that when you talk to an insurance company about the accident, you should only answer the questions that are asked of you. Again, do not admit fault, and if you are asked to give a recorded statement, it’s best not to do this. There is a reason that you should call an attorney before calling your insurance company.
A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
Being partially at fault in a car accident doesn’t mean that you can’t be compensated. If you were partially at fault in an accident that left you with serious injuries, chances are you’re still entitled to damages from the at-fault party. Contact a reputable Georgia personal injury lawyer in your area to have them look at your case.
A lawyer experienced in tort law will be able to explain your options to you and work with you to get the compensation you deserve. Furthermore, in many cases, personal injury lawyers who work on contingency meet with you for a free consultation, and you only pay a lawyer’s fee if you win your case. Find out more by calling a reputable lawyer today.