One of the more complicated issues to deal with after a car accident is liability. Even if one party had clearly acted in a negligent manner, it can be expected that the other party will attempt to at least diminish responsibility by suggesting the injured person was partially at fault. If these defense tactics are successful, the other party may avoid liability.
Defense Tactics That May Be Used to Show an Injured Person Was Partially at Fault
Establishing responsibility is fairly clear in certain types of accidents. For instance, in a left turn accident it is usually the fault of the person who is making the turn and in a rear-end accident the person who strikes the vehicle in front. But there can be exceptions where some of the fault is with the other motorist. For instance, one defense might be that in a left turn accident the oncoming driver was speeding or in a rear-end crash the driver in front needlessly slammed on the brakes.
In any type of crash, the other party will try to show that the injured person had also acted negligently. It could be argued that the driver had made a sudden, unexpected movement, such as a lane change. Or the driver was talking on his/her cell phone at the time of the accident.
Another defense could be that the injured person admitted fault at the scene of the accident. Sometimes people’s emotions get the best of them and without truly realizing what happened, in some way suggest or outright take responsibility. Even apologizing can be construed as taking blame. Since there could have been other unknown circumstances surrounding the accident, it’s best to let the investigation determine who was at fault.
The other party might have a stronger case if there isn’t enough evidence to prove his/her liability. So it’s important to gather as much documentation and information as possible. A lack of proof can turn the entire situation around. To avoid this, start collecting evidence right at the scene. But additional examples of proof could include an accident report and red-light camera footage.
How Negligence Laws Can Impact Ability to Recover Damages in Georgia
In the state of Georgia, if a defendant can prove that the plaintiff was halfway (50 percent) negligent, the plaintiff cannot recover damages. The only way an injured person could recover damages is if he/she is 49 percent or less at fault.
This is why partial car accident liability can be very damaging to a case. Even if a person’s degree of fault is found to be less than 50 percent, the amount recoverable would be diminished.
Let’s say a collision was caused by another driver running a red light. But it’s also found that the injured person was texting at the time of the crash. If the driver who was texting is found 45 percent at fault, then 45 percent will be deducted from the damages.
So if damages totaled $32,000, the injured person would only be able to recover $17,600. This may not be enough to cover medical expenses, property damage and lost wages, let alone allow for recovery of other damages such as pain and suffering.
Importance of Seeking Legal Help if Defense Tactics Aim to Prove Partial Fault
There can be a lot at stake financially when there is a dispute concerning car accident liability. Not only does an injured person have to prove the other party was negligent but may have to defend oneself from claims of partial fault. The best way to protect one’s rights and to navigate what can be a difficult process is to contact an attorney. Call the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz at 404-474-0804.