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Defending Against Comparative Fault Allegations in Georgia

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Common Strategies for Dealing With Comparative Fault Claims During Your Lawsuit

Personal injury lawsuits related to car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, product liability, or accidents on someone else’s property can be complex and stressful for those involved. If you have been injured in these types of incidents, you may be dealing with medical bills, loss of wages, and other expenses, placing financial burdens on a time in your life that is already difficult.

Working with a personal injury attorney to seek compensation from those who were at fault in the accident can help you overcome some financial challenges. However, personal injury lawsuits are not always straightforward, and you might find yourself facing claims of comparative negligence.

What Is Comparative Fault in Georgia?

Georgia law allows apportionment of damages in tort cases, which means that various defendants contribute to damages in keeping with the portion of their liability in a case. For example, in a car accident involving three or more drivers, two drivers might be at fault for the injuries and damages caused in the accident. You must make sure you name all the appropriate defendants in a lawsuit so that any potential damages are apportioned correctly.

However, the complexities do not stop there. Georgia follows a comparative negligence principle, which allows defendants in personal injury cases to claim that plaintiffs were also at fault in an incident. If you are deemed to be 50% or more at fault for an incident, you can’t collect compensation from others in the matter. If you are deemed to be at fault but your fault is less than 50%, you can collect compensation relevant to your fault.

For example, if you are deemed to be 30% at fault in a case, that means another person or people are deemed to be 70% at fault. Therefore, you can collect 70% of any compensation awarded. If the award is $100,000, you can collect $70,000.

How Does a Comparative Fault Allegation Work?

Bringing comparative fault allegations is a common defense strategy against personal injury lawsuits. It can help the defendant reduce how much they might owe if the plaintiff successfully wins any type of award in the case.

However, just as you must prove your case, the defendant must work to prove that you were at fault. They have to bring the same type of evidence and arguments that you bring in attempting to demonstrate that the accident occurred and that they were at fault.

Is Defense Against Comparative Fault Allegations Possible?

Because the defense has to make a case for comparative negligence or fault, you can defend against these allegations. Some common defense strategies are discussed below.

Disproving Facts Stated by the Defendant

The defense can’t simply make an allegation that you’re also at fault in the matter and hope it plays out in their favor. They must provide evidence and arguments to help the judge or jury make a determination about fault in the case. You can work to defend against these allegations by attacking the information the defense presents.

Imagine a hypothetical case where the defendant ran a stop sign, hitting your vehicle and causing damage and injury. The defendant may attempt to claim that you were also at fault because you were speeding—the argument might be that if you were not speeding, the accident would not have occurred.

In this scenario, you can work to defend against comparative fault allegations by demonstrating that you were not speeding. Witness accounts and expert testimony about the physical evidence at the scene might call the defendant’s assertions into question. If you have a safe-driving app or device installed for insurance purposes, you may even be able to show without a doubt that you weren’t speeding.

Casting Doubt on Witness Testimony

If the case supporting comparative fault hinges on testimony from expert or other witnesses, you might work to discredit that testimony. Attorneys might work to do this by:

  • Questioning the witness in such a way to demonstrate that their narrative has holes in it or to get the witness to contradict themselves
  • Calling other witnesses that can speak to facts that might call into question the accuracy of other statements
  • Providing information that calls into question the knowledge or intentions of an expert witness

Arguing That the Defendant Has Most of the Fault

If it seems likely you will carry some of the fault for an incident, you might want to work to mitigate the damage it will do to your own case. Instead of seeking to show that you aren’t at fault at all, you might work to reduce how much fault you carry.

For example, it’s better to be 10% or 20% at fault than 40%, as you will be able to collect more compensation if your lawsuit is successful. And it’s better to be 49% at fault than 50% at fault, because that 1% is the difference between being able to collect some compensation and not being able to collect anything.

Getting Help From an Experienced Personal Injury Team

Suits and countersuits can become confusing, and every detail matters in your personal injury case. Working with an experienced personal injury team helps ensure you do everything you can to support a positive outcome.

If you want to know if you have a potential personal injury case, contact the team at Jarrett & Price today by calling 912-244-9055.

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