One of your first questions after a car crash is likely, Whose fault was it?
In most cases, the answer to this question is, Partly mine and partly someone else’s.
The question then becomes, How much blame can be attributed to each of us?
Because rarely is one person 100 percent at fault, most personal injury claims require the parties to make precise calculations that can affect recovery. Georgia is a modified comparative fault state. This means that you are barred from collecting damages if you were 50 percent or more to blame for the auto accident. Your damages are then reduced by the percentage you are found at fault. Of course, this works both ways. If you are named as a defendant in a motor vehicle wreck, you can avoid paying damages if you can prove that the other party was at least half responsible.
Under the modified comparative fault formula used in Georgia, if damages in your auto accident totaled $100,000 and you were 50 percent at fault, you receive nothing. However, if you were 40 percent at fault, you are awarded $60,000 — or 60 percent of the total damages.
To understand the comparative fault doctrine, it helps to understand the draconian pure negligence doctrine employed by some states. The pure negligence method withholds all damages for any blame. Therefore, if your accident occurred in one of the four states or District of Columbia that follows this strict rule of law, you would be out of luck if you were even one percent at fault.