The driver who is found to be “at fault” is responsible for all the property damage and injuries from the accident. If you are at fault and you have insurance coverage, your insurance company will pay, up to the limits of your policy.
In Georgia, it is possible for more than one person to be at fault in a car accident. When this happens, Georgia uses a “comparative fault” system to decide who must pay for the injuries. If you were less than 50 percent to blame, you may still be able to recover money from the other driver’s insurance company.
How do you know whether you are at fault?
If the police came to the scene of your accident, the police report that may have included the officer’s opinion of who was at fault. One or more drivers may have received a traffic citation or may have been arrested for DUI.
Once the accident is reported to an insurance company, a claims adjuster will be assigned to the case. The adjuster will review the police report, witness statements and other evidence and decide who is “at fault” for purposes of the insurance claim. The insurance companies’ decision will determine who must pay for the injuries and damage caused in the accident.
However—be aware that the insurance companies don’t have the final word. You should never accept fault for an accident you didn’t cause, and a lawyer can fight the insurance company for you.
How does comparative fault work?
Georgia’s laws recognize that accidents aren’t always caused by just one driver. Sometimes, more than one person breaks a traffic law or drives in an unsafe manner. One driver might have been the main cause of the accident, but the other driver’s actions may have made it worse. When this happens, the insurance companies assign a percentage of fault to each driver—for example, one driver might be 70 percent at fault and the other is 30 percent at fault.
If your percentage of fault is greater than 50 percent, your insurance must pay the other driver’s costs, but it will pay a reduced amount because they are partly at fault.
If your percentage of fault is less than 50 percent, you can still recover money from the other driver’s insurance, but you will get less because you were partly at fault. However, your own insurance can make up the difference.
What if I don’t have insurance, or I only have the minimum amount of insurance?
Georgia requires all drivers to have a minimum amount of car insurance, but this insurance often isn’t enough to pay for all the damage in a major car accident. And some drivers decide not to get insurance.
If you are at fault and you don’t have enough insurance to pay for all the injuries and damage, then the other accident victims will usually look to their own insurance policies to make up the difference. If that still isn’t enough, the people who were injured may explore ways to recover the money from you personally.
Will I get sued?
It’s unlikely. Most car accident claims are resolved through negotiations with the insurance company, and a lawsuit isn’t necessary. An accident victim will usually only file a lawsuit if these negotiations have broken down for some reason, or if the insurance company believes it has a strong case and could win at trial.
If a lawsuit is filed in your case, your insurance company should take care of hiring a lawyer and defending your claim. You may have to come to court or a deposition and give testimony, but you will typically not pay out of pocket for legal bills.
Should I get my own lawyer anyway?
Yes! It’s always a good idea to consult with a personal injury lawyer after an accident. Insurance companies don’t like to pay out claims if they can avoid it, and sometimes they will blame you for all or part of an accident that wasn’t really your fault. This can mean you forego the right to recover money that will pay for your own injuries. And you’ll be stuck paying insurance deductibles and increased premiums.
A lawyer can take an objective look at the facts of your case and tell you whether you were at fault or whether you might have a claim against another driver for damages. You have nothing to lose—you can get a consultation with a car accident lawyer near Atlanta for free.
Talk to an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer for Free
Our lawyers have built their reputation on helping accident victims recover money to pay for their injuries. We won’t charge you anything unless we get money for you. We’ll give you a free consultation, with no obligation, to talk about your case and tell you if you have a claim. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.