I wanted to talk today a little bit about rear-end accident cases and whether if you’ve been rear-ended, the other person is automatically responsible for all of your damages or whether you’ve been the one that has rear-ended the other person or whether you’re automatically going to be responsible for their damages. In Georgia, there’s a presumption that if you cause a rear-end collision that you are guilty of what we call negligence per se.
On the other hand, there are several factors that could mitigate against finding that you actually are responsible for the accident. For example, maybe the person ahead of you stopped too suddenly. Maybe they went ahead and they didn’t have brake lights. Maybe they went ahead and they were driving erratically. Other factors could have included whether they were reversing, backing up at the time of the accident. Maybe they had stopped at the side of the road and you rear-ended them but they didn’t put up any flares or anything like that.
In Georgia, we have what we call comparative negligence. What that means is this, if a jury or a judge were to find you 50% responsible for causing the accident, then you could not recover any damages from the other party. If you both were 50% responsible or more. If you were 50% or more responsible, you cannot recover damages. However, if you are 48% responsible and the other person was 52% responsible, then, in Georgia, you could recover some form of compensation that would be up to a jury or a judge, in that case, to determine what the amount of the compensation would be.
But let’s say, for example, your total damages were $25,000 and that you were determined to be 40% responsible for causing the accident. You want to be entitled to the entire $25,000 damages, you’d get a reduction of 40% which would leave you at $15,000 in damages that you’d actually be entitled to recover. I did want to point out too, in light of the fact that we’ve had a lot of snow this year and icy conditions, that just because you rear-ended somebody or there was a collision, especially during the icy conditions, that you wouldn’t necessarily be responsible for it. It can a little bit of a tough argument to make in front of the court or in front of a jury.
But let’s say, for example, you were traveling and black ice had formed on the roadways and that you just slid. It was not a matter of you traveling too fast for the conditions or failing to obey a traffic device or anything like that, that there was black ice formed on the roadways and that you just couldn’t stop in that point. What you can argue to the judge or to the jury at that point is that was actually the cause of the collision, the black ice of the road, not your conduct. Again, it’s a hard argument to make but nonetheless, it’s an argument that you would have in case you found yourself in that situation. If you have any questions about rear-end collisions and whether you would be fund liable or whether you’d be able to get compensation, please call me at 770-792-1000.