Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident in Georgia is stressful under the best conditions. If you find yourself needing to pursue compensation through a civil suit, you will likely face additional stress and anxiety. Accidents involving fault from multiple drivers only compounds these cases.
Thankfully, as FindLaw explains, Georgia’s modified comparative negligence laws clearly address situations like this.
Modified comparative negligence
States address fault and negligence differently when it comes to civil claims. Generally, they fall into three categories: contributory negligence, modified comparative negligence and pure comparative negligence. In short, contributory negligence states bar plaintiffs from recovering damages if they contributed any fault at all to an accident. Comparative negligence states allow plaintiffs to collect even if they were partially at fault, as long as the defendant also contributed at least some fault to the accident. A court would assess the fault of each party as a percentage, and the amount a plaintiff can collect diminishes in proportion to his or her fault.
In pure comparative negligence states, this doctrine applies no matter how much the plaintiff was at fault — even if the plaintiff was 99% to blame, the defendant may still owe 1% of the total damages a court assesses. Modified comparative negligence states, like Georgia, apply comparative negligence doctrine only as long as the plaintiff is less than 50% at fault.
Fault from multiple parties
When multiple vehicles collide, a Georgia court may allocate a percentage of fault to each party. For example, after a collision involving three drivers, a judge may determine that one driver was 65% at fault, a second driver was 30% at fault, and the third driver was only 5% at fault. In this case, only the second and third drivers would be eligible to receive damages.
Ultimately, plaintiffs may seek damages from any parties who were at fault as long as the plaintiff’s fault was less than 50%. Courts may order more than one party to pay damages for the same accident.
Even if a court has ordered you to pay damages as a defendant in a lawsuit, you may be able to pursue compensation from other involved parties in proportion to their percentage of fault.