It is a commonly held belief by many Georgia drivers that the fault in a rear-end collision is easy to determine and that the driver that rear-ends the other is always at fault. And while that is usually the case, the reality is that there are exceptions to this rule. Rear-end collisions make up a large portion of the more than 385,000 traffic accidents that occur in Georgia each year. That’s why it’s important to understand when drivers may share fault in a rear-end collision, as these accidents contribute to Georgia’s relatively high cost of insurance. Shared fault can have a major impact on a personal injury claim due to Georgia’s adoption of contributory negligence laws.
What Is Contributory Negligence?
Under Georgia’s contributory negligence laws, a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit may recover a portion of their damages even when they bear some of the responsibility for the collision. The jury in the case will make a determination of what percentage at fault the plaintiff is. The jury will then take this “fault percentage” and apply it to the total value of the damage in the case. For example, if the jury finds there were $100,000 worth of damages but the plaintiff was 30 percent at fault, the plaintiff will lose 30 percent of their recovery. The end result would be an award of $70,000 for the plaintiff. In cases where the plaintiff is partially at fault for a rear-end collision, the total recovered will be reduced. If a jury ultimately determines that the plaintiff was primarily at fault for the accident, the award will be zero.
Examples of Shared Fault Georgia Rear-End Collisions
There are a handful of scenarios in which liability for a rear-end crash could be split. The first and most common is when the driver of the front vehicle makes a sudden maneuver. This can include anything from a rapid lane change or a sudden stop. While the following driver has a duty to not follow too closely behind the front vehicle, there may be a case for split liability if the driver of the front vehicle makes a move that is so sudden that a collision could not reasonably be avoided.
Another common example where liability for a rear-end collision could be split is the presence of a mechanical defect or failure. If the front driver knowingly operates a vehicle without working brake lights or turn signals, there is a strong argument that the front driver is liable. This includes both mechanical defects as well as a driver’s failure to activate a car’s headlights or blinker.
If You’ve Been Rear-Ended in Georgia, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC Today!
In the vast majority of cases, a driver can prevent causing rear-end collisions by traveling at a safe distance behind the car in front of them and paying close attention to traffic and road conditions. If you have suffered an injury from a rear-end collision, contact an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney right away. Your attorney will explain the process of recovering your damages to you and help gather evidence in preparation for trial. If your case ends up before a jury, your attorney will use that evidence to make the case that it was the defendant’s lack of care that caused the accident, not yours. To discuss your case with an experienced Georgia car accident attorney, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC today at 833-LEGALGA.