What You Need to Know About Determining Fault in Georgia Car Accidents
Annually, more than 3 million people in the United States are injured in motor vehicle accidents. While many of these injuries happen in Georgia, there are specific ways to determine car accident fault.
Georgia is an at-fault state, meaning insurance companies look to hold the responsible party accountable when a vehicle collision happens. Keep reading to learn more about what to do if you’re in a car accident in Georgia.
At Fault vs. No-Fault
Georgia is one of the 38 states in the nation where insurance is based on fault. In Georgia, a driver has to pay for the damages and injuries if they cause the accident.
In comparison, in a no-fault state, individual drivers are responsible for securing damages through their insurance company. There is no need to prove who is at fault for the accident. No-fault states states require different insurances, such as personal injury protection covering medical bills, lost wages, and lost earning capacity
The Theory of Negligence
The primary method of determining fault in Georgia is the Theory of Negligence. The injured party must prove the other driver did not operate their vehicle with enough responsibility or care. Police reports and witness statements can determine whether the other driver is at fault. By proving the other driver’s negligent actions were the leading cause of the damage and injuries, the other driver becomes “at fault.” Another way Georgia can determine negligence is if the driver violated Georgia’s Vehicle Code.
The negligence of Georgia drivers is based on a “reasonable person” standard. Every driver has a duty to drive their vehicle safely and with reasonable caution. Part of proving negligence requires showing the other driver “breached” their duty of care to drive with caution. If an injured driver can prove the other driver was negligent, the injured driver is entitled to compensation in damages.
When the involved drivers cannot determine fault, arbitration is a method to settle fault. A non-biased arbiter decides the percentage of fault each driver has.
Comparative Negligence in Georgia
Georgia is a comparative fault state. Comparative fault means courts can allocate responsibility to multiple parties when determining who is at fault. A driver may be entitled to compensation even if they are partially at fault for a car accident. Comparative negligence is beneficial because even if the plaintiff is at fault to a certain degree, they can recover a percentage of the damages awarded. For example, if a jury determines the plaintiff is responsible for 70% of the accident and the defendant is liable for 30% of the accident, then the defendant only pays 30% of the damages accounted to the plaintiff.
Evidence Needed to Support Fault in Georgia
Under Georgia law, drivers must convince insurance companies they are not to blame for the car accident. The more evidence a driver has to prove the negligence claims of another driver, the stronger the case will be. A driver should make a profound effort to gather evidence as soon as the accident occurs.
A driver should gather evidence that contributes to helping establish fault, such as:
- Photos of the exterior and interior of vehicle damage
- Photos of skid marks, traffic signs, and other details of the accident
- Police and traffic reports
- Medical bills
- Property bills
- Eyewitness statements
Determining negligence in a car accident depends on the circumstance. A driver should be able to claim negligence of the defendant by proving:
- Failure to follow Georgia vehicle codes, such as speeding
- Distracted driving, such as texting while driving
- Impaired driving, such as driving under the influence
- Failure to maintain vehicle safety
Minimum Car Insurance Requirements for Georgia Drivers
Under Georgia state, mandatory insurance law requires all vehicle owners to pay minimum liability insurance, which includes:
- $25,000 for the injury or death of one person in an accident.
- $50,000 for injury or death of more than one person in an accident.
- $20,000 for damages to the property of another person.
These minimum liability amounts cover medical bills, property damage, and other out-of-pocket losses.
Related: How to File a Car Accident Lawsuit
What to Do After a Car Accident in Georgia
Getting in a car accident may seem scary at first. However, the most important thing a driver can do is remain calm and stay at the crash scene until law enforcement arrives. Under Georgia Vehicle Code, any vehicle involved in a car accident must be reported to state authorities, no matter how minuscule.
If any injuries are subject to claim, the legal deadline to file a lawsuit for damages resulting from another driver’s negligence is two years. If the Georgia car accident results in death, the deceased’s surviving family members must file a lawsuit within two years of the person’s death.