Determining fault in car and truck accidents is not always cut-and-dry. Of course, in some situations it is clear that there is only one party at fault, and establishing that fact at trial is fairly straightforward. However, in other situations multiple parties are involved, each with varying degrees of fault. Still other accidents involve just two parties, each of whom may be a certain percentage at fault. When a case is filed by an accident victim in a Georgia court, it is the judge or jury’s job to determine who bore primary responsibility for the accident and how that should affect the accident victim’s total recovery amount.
Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued an opinion in a product liability case that illustrates how fault can be apportioned among several liable parties. The plaintiffs in the case were the surviving family members of a woman who had died when she rear-ended a truck that was not properly fitted with a safe under-ride guard. An under-ride guard is a metal guard placed on the rear of large trucks to prevent smaller vehicles from sliding underneath the truck in the event of a rear-end collision.
The facts presented to the court indicated that the municipality that owned the truck installed the guard, which was manufactured by the defendant. The municipality was not named in the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs alleged that the under-ride guard was not safely designed and that the manufacturer of the guard should be held liable for the death of their loved one. After the case went to trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs for $6,000,000. However, the jury determined that the manufacturer of the guard was only liable for 20% of the damages, and the municipality was liable for 80%. Since the municipality was not named in the lawsuit, the total recovery amount the plaintiff was entitled to receive was $1,200,000.
Determining Fault in Georgia Cases
Similar to the law applied in the case discussed above, Georgia uses the theory of modified comparative negligence when determining how to split up the liability for an accident. Under the theory, each party is responsible for their own percent of fault, including the accident victim. This means that, as long as the accident victim is less than 50% at fault for the accident, they can recover compensation for their injuries but will receive a reduced award. Specifically, the award will be reduced by the plaintiff’s own percent of fault.
Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Car or Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Georgia auto accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. This may even be the case if you were partially at fault for the accident, or if you could have done something to avoid the accident but failed to do so. However, it is important that you consult with a dedicated Georgia personal injury attorney, since a savvy defense attorney may try and convince the court that you were primarily at fault and that you should be denied the opportunity to recover. Call 770-284-3727 to set up a free consultation with a dedicated Georgia personal injury attorney.
More Blog Posts:
Settlement Reached for Four of Five Families in Fatal 2015 Georgia Trucking Accident, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, May 16, 2016.
Georgia Governing Law on Damages That a Plaintiff May Be Awarded in a Personal Injury Lawsuit, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, March 10, 2016.