Contributory Fault

Few accidents can be completely blamed on one party. Sometimes, even the victim is partially responsible for the accident. This can lead to a lot of confusion and the victim wondering whether they can even recover any compensation for injuries they were partially responsible for. 

All states have some type of contributory fault rule to deal with this type of situation. Depending on where the accident occurred will dictate whether the accident victim can pursue a claim and how their compensation is affected when they contributed to the accident. 

Types of Contributory Fault Systems

Types of Contributory Fault Systems

While there are individual differences in how states handle this issue, there are generally three types of contributory fault systems:

Contributory Negligence 

Contributory negligence is a common law rule that prevents accident victims from recovering any compensation if they were at all at fault for the accident. 

For example, if someone was hurt in a car accident, was traveling slightly above the speed limit, and was found 5% at fault for the accident, they would not be able to collect any compensation from the party who was 95% at fault for the accident.

Because of the harsh effect of this rule, most states have moved away from it. Only Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. still use this system. 

Pure Comparative Negligence 

Pure comparative negligence is the opposite of the contributory negligence system. Under this system, accident victims can still pursue compensation for accidents in which they were partly at fault. 

However, their compensation can be reduced based on the amount of fault they share. For example, sharing 25% of the blame means their compensation can be reduced by 25%. Around 11 states have a pure comparative negligence standard in place.

Modified Comparative Negligence 

Modified comparative negligence is a middle ground between contributory negligence and pure comparative negligence. Under this system, the victim’s share of fault is compared to the defendant’s share of fault. If the victim is either 50% or 51% at fault for the accident (depending on the state), the victim is barred from bringing the claim. 

If they are under the relevant threshold, they can still bring the claim. However, their compensation is reduced by their degree of fault, just like in a pure comparative negligence state. 

Georgia’s Contributory Fault Rules

Georgia uses a modified comparative fault system with a 50% bar to recovery. Under this system, you can still recover compensation for your injuries even if you were partially at fault–  as long as your percentage of fault is not the same as or greater than the other party’s degree of fault. Whatever damages you suffered will be reduced by your degree of fault. 

Why Contributory Fault Matters

Contributory fault can impact the amount of compensation you can recover after an accident and even whether you can bring a claim at all. The greater the degree of fault you are attributed for an accident, the less money you will have to pay your medical bills, make up for your lost wages, and be available for other expenses

Courts are not the only ones that use contributory fault rules. Since the insurance claims process occurs “under the shadow of the law,” this principle can still apply during settlement negotiations out-of-court.

A personal injury lawyer can stand up for your rights, handle communications with the insurance company, and prevent you from doing or saying anything that could increase the amount of blame assigned to you. 

Contact an Experienced Lawrenceville Personal Injury Lawyer for Assistance

If you were injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, an experienced Lawrenceville personal injury lawyer can review your case and explain how your degree of fault might impact the process. Lawson Personal Injury Attorneys offers a free, no-obligation case review to discuss your particular situation. Contact us today at 678-446-3655 to learn more about your legal rights and options.