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When Fault In An Accident Matters

A driver seeking compensation from another driver in a car accident may not always consider how his or her own conduct can affect his or her ability to recover in a lawsuit for the injuries sustained.  However, a driver’s conduct or action that may have contributed to the accident may in many ways affect the driver’s ability to receive his or her full measure of damages in a personal injury lawsuit.  How much this degree of fault limits recovery depends on which state law governs or applies to the lawsuit.

In some states, a person who is found to have contributed to the accident by any degree cannot recover for the damages he or she sustained in the accident, no matter how small the contribution.  So if a drunk driver ran a red light and causes an accident with a car that had only one working headlight, the drunk driver could use the defense that the second driver was partially responsible for failing to have a functioning headlight.  To soften the blow of such a harsh outcome for drivers, some states allow recovery in cases where even though the driver was found to be at fault, the driver’s fault is determined to be below 50 percent.  This is called modified comparative negligence and is the system used by courts in Georgia.  Therefore, if a driver is found to be 49 percent at fault in causing the accident, the driver can be compensated; however, if the driver is 51 percent or more at fault, the fault is a bar to compensation.

Other states are more liberal with when how a driver can recover damages, allowing recovery for drivers who are found to be even 99 percent at fault.  However, even in these states, the driver’s recovery would then be reduced by the percentage of fault attributable to that driver.  These are called pure comparative negligence states, and Florida is one of them.  This means that if a judge or jury decides that the driver is 20 percent at fault, the driver’s ultimate recovery for medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress or pain and suffering if awarded, would be reduced by 20 percent.  In addition, if there is more than one defendant in the case, each defendant is only required to pay their share of the costs awarded to the plaintiff.

Because proving fault can mean so much to the determination of the amount a plaintiff receives, it is important to talk to an attorney as soon as you think you may file a lawsuit for an automobile accident.  Additionally, after an accident, a driver should not volunteer any information regarding any actions they may have taken that could have contributed to the accident.  These statements can later be used in court.

Contact Us For Legal Assistance

If you suffered injuries or property damage as a result of a car accident with a negligent driver, you may be able to recover for your injuries.  Contact the experienced Jacksonville, Florida and Brunswick, Georgia personal injury attorneys at Gillette Law, P.A. to learn more about your options.

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