No one is perfect — especially while driving. Driving mistakes happen at the worst time and place, often resulting in an accident that leaves you injured.
If you are injured and worried about how to pay for your medical bills for an accident you were partially at-fault for, there is a silver lining. Georgia laws allow victims to recover some of their damages if they are less than half at fault for the car accident.
Referred to as a “modified contributory negligence” rule, Georgia Code §51-12-33 says that damages will be reduced for a personal injury award by the proportion of fault assigned to the plaintiff — the injured person filing a claim or suing. For example, if you were hurt in a car accident that had $100,000 in total damages and you are found to be 5% responsible for the accident, then you will only receive $95,000, maximum.
The only catch is that you must be found 49% or less responsible for your accident. Once you cross the 50% threshold, the state says you have no grounds to sue, which means insurers won’t be willing to pay you a settlement, either.
At Fault? You Still Have Rights
Accident victims, therefore, want to avoid a scenario where they are accused of having the majority of fault at all costs. In fact, since any amount of fault reduces the amount of money you can get to pay back your medical bills and other losses, you want to fight against insurers and defendants who claim you have any portion of fault.
An experienced Duluth car accident lawyer can help you recognize and fight against common tactics insurance companies use to assign fault. Even if you are found to be at-fault, you have legal rights, including the right to hire a lawyer who is familiar with insurers’ tactics to get you to settle for less.
Contact us at 770-822-0900 to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation with our Duluth car accident lawyers. We aggressively fight for our clients’ right to pursue the full amount of compensation they need–not just some of it.
Never Admit Fault, And Be Careful When Talking to Insurers
The one thing you should never do when you have a personal injury claim admit that you made a mistake or likely had some amount of fault in an accident.
We all have the right to withhold certain information when talking to insurers — and even police officers who fill out your accident report. Something we may consider to be breaking the law or acting negligently might turn out to be perfectly fine. It may even turn out to be totally irrelevant to your case.
The average person who gets hurt in a car accident or some other type of incident is not an expert, after all. Only someone who has professional experience evaluating crash causes or the safety of certain scenarios can say for sure that you were at fault. Plus, something that may have seemed like an obvious indicator of guilt to you could later turn out to have zero bearings on your case. If you admit fault from the beginning, it will be much harder to take that admission back, even if all the facts now lay on your side.
None of this is to say that you should ever lie or deceive anybody!
Give a complete and accurate statement to police officers who arrive at the scene of your accident. Answer all direct questions they ask truthfully. If you don’t remember the details accurately, say something along the lines of “I cannot recall for sure.” Making a false statement is not only a crime, it hurts your image as a plaintiff, making it harder to convince insurers or a jury that your claim has merit.
With that said, you can keep some information close to your chest when talking to non-police parties. Don’t volunteer obvious admissions of guilt, especially not to other drivers or their insurance companies.
If an insurance adjuster calls you, they may try to ask leading questions. You can provide them the information that is found on the police report. If they say something like, “I see you wear corrective lens wear. Were you wearing them at the time of the accident?” then you can say that the details surrounding the accident are complicated and can only be revealed following a full investigation. You do not have to disclose everything — like whether you were distracted by your phone or daydreams or the radio — unless these details were noted specifically on the police report. Defer everything to the investigation.
Always be 100% honest, but know your rights. You don’t have to be forthcoming with all information immediately, especially if you have a Duluth car accident attorney privately investigating your case.
How Your Attorney Can Help You Fight Allegations of Fault
Part of fighting to reduce your perception of being at-fault comes down to the legal theory of negligence that makes personal injury claims possible.
Nearly all personal injury claims are built upon this theory of negligence. It states that someone had a duty of care to obey laws and exercise ordinary care as a reasonable person would, but they violated this duty. Not only that, but the breach in the duty directly led to an injury and corresponding damages.
Under this theory, something you did that was careless, or a legitimate mistake may still have not caused your accident or directly contributed to your injury. This may seem like a technicality, but it’s at the very heart of the law. Besides, insurers and defendants will use every technicality available to them, so you should too.
Seeking the full, fair amount of compensation available for your personal injury is critical to putting you and your family on the path to recovery. We should all be held accountable in some way for the bad choices we make, but when mistakes may not have an actual bearing on the case at hand, it only hurts us when we go out of our way to make ourselves look guilty.
Learn more about how to protect your legal rights and how to seek the maximum amount of compensation available for your injuries during your free, no-obligation case review with a Duluth car accident attorney.
Call 770-822-0900 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation now.