Car accidents happen every day of the week on roads across the country. To protect the public, states require that drivers buy insurance, which can pay for medical care and replace lost wages in the event of bodily injury.
Each state is free to design its own laws regarding car accidents. Some states are “no-fault” states, meaning that after an accident an injured motorist contacts their own insurer, who pays out compensation regardless of who is to blame for the crash.
Other states are “fault” states. In a fault state, an injured motorist makes a claim on the insurance policy of the driver who was at fault for the accident. If a driver wasn’t at fault, his or her insurer does not need to pay out compensation.
As a leading car accident law firm, we regularly receive questions from the public, and many people call to ask, “Is Georgia a no-fault state?” Below, we deal with the intricacies of the law.
Georgia Is a Fault State
Georgia has followed the lead of most other states and operates under a “fault” system. This means that if you were injured in an accident, it matters whether you are to blame. If you are, then you can’t make a claim with your own bodily injury insurance policy. You also can’t make a claim with another driver’s insurance policy.
However, if you weren’t to blame for the accident, you need to identify who was. You can then make a claim on that driver’s policy.
Consider the following example:
Megan is driving through the intersection on a green light when she is struck by Paul, who ran a red. Both Megan and Paul suffer injuries. Because Paul is at fault, Megan can get compensation from Paul’s insurance company. However, because Paul is at fault, he has to suffer the consequences of his negligent conduct. He can’t get Megan’s insurer to pay his medical bills, and he also can’t make a claim on his own liability insurance policy.
Interesting, our neighbors to the south, Florida, is a no-fault state. In Florida, Megan would use her own no-fault personal injury protection benefits and Paul could make a claim on his own PIP policy as well.
Georgia Recognizes Proportional Fault
The law regarding liability in Georgia can sometimes be a little more complicated than described above, especially when both drivers commit mistakes that lead to a collision. Georgia recognizes “proportional comparative fault.” This means both drivers can be to blame, so we need to identify each side’s percentage of fault.
Consider the following:
Paul approaches an intersection and is prepared to make a left-hand turn. He does not use his turn signal so Megan, who is tailgating, is caught off guard when he suddenly slows down even though the light is green. Megan ends up rear-ending Paul’s car, and Paul suffers a concussion.
In this example, Megan shares some of the fault because she was driving too closely to Paul. But Paul also bears some of the blame, because he did not use a turn signal when he was supposed to. In this example, both are to blame for the accident, so insurance adjusters will need to assign a percentage of fault. As an example, Paul could be 30% at fault for the collision and Megan 70%.
Under O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33, your compensation will be shrunk by your proportion of fault. But if you are 50% or more to blame for the crash, you cannot receive anything at all.
How an Attorney Can Help
Some car accidents are straightforward, and it is easy to determine who is at fault. Other cases are less clear. To receive the most compensation possible under Georgia’s “fault” rules, you need evidence.
At our firm, we can help injured motorists by:
- Visiting the scene of the accident to find evidence.
- Searching for dashboard or security camera footage which might have captured the accident.
- Identify and talk to witnesses who can identify who is to blame for the collision.
- Help you record your own memories of the crash.
The evidence available will depend on the case, but our firm never uses “one size fits all” approaches to car accident cases. Instead, we will look at the unique facts of your case and use them to argue aggressively for compensation.
Speak to a Georgia Car Accident Attorney Today
After a collision, you might not know who to reach out to or what steps to take. Georgia’s fault laws often confuse people, so reach out to a law firm for help.
Contact Pritchard Injury Firm today. We offer a free consultation to those who contact us.