In the US, there are two primary systems in place when it comes to determining who should pay for compensation in a personal injury claim. These two systems are both fault and no-fault systems. More specifically:
- Fault System: This system is based on the premise that any damages paid by individuals involved in a personal injury claim should be determined on the basis of each party’s degree of fault. In other words, each party has to demonstrate why they perceive the other party to be at fault and what evidence they have to substantiate that claim.
- No-Fault system: This system is based on the premise that in case of a personal injury claim, such as that filed after a car accident, only the party who was at fault will be held responsible for any damages that may have been incurred. The good driver, in this scenario, will not have to prove that it was his fault. He will be compensated in any case.
Under the fault system, the insurance company will pay compensation for medical expenses, lost wages as well as non-economic damages related to any emotional pain and suffering. But under the no-fault system, the party who is injured will not be compensated for pain or suffering or any other form of emotional distress. That is one difference between the two approaches in terms of damages paid.
In the US, there are currently only 12 states that follow the no-fault approach which include Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Utah.
How does fault determination effect claims in Rome, Georgia?
When it comes to personal injury claims, Georgia is not a no-fault state. Therefore, compensation is completely dependent on the degree of fault of the parties involved in the accident. When we talk about such a system where fault-determination is the key to the approval or denial of a claim, the concept of negligence becomes increasingly important.
Negligence is defined as any conduct that falls below the expected standards of behavior. These standards are established to ensure the safety of others against any risk or harm. In the event of negligent conduct which results in harm or injury to another party, the injured party can claim compensation.
The concept of negligence has long been used to impose liability on those who behave wrongly. This concept applies to all reasonable people – whether they are driving on the road, run an inn, operate a factory, etc. Every reasonable person is expected to conform to the basic standards of negligence.
Since Georgia follows an “at-fault system,” whenever a personal injury claim is filed, the plaintiff has to prove that the defendant’s negligent actions resulted in harm and/or injury. If we continue with the car accident scenario, the plaintiff who is claiming that the negligent action of the other driver caused him bodily injury and/or property damage, the defendant’s negligence will be determined based a reasonable person would have driven in the same circumstances as were present at the time of the accident. If speeding was the issue, the defendant would be judged to be at-fault. If the defendant was driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and this caused the accident and personal injury to the plaintiff, then the defendant will be held liable for his actions. If the defendant ignored a red light which in turn resulted in an accident and personal injury to another party, the defendant is deemed responsible for the injuries that were incurred.
This does not mean that the plaintiff is always right. That is the advantage of this system that fault has to be established and is not just accepted at face value. Now there can be circumstances when the defendant had no other choice but to act in a certain manner. Continuing with our car accident scenario, if the defendant had to suddenly swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid hitting a pedestrian who suddenly came out from nowhere, he could not be held completely responsible. If this abrupt swerving resulted in a collision with another car, it is not necessary that the defendant will have to pay all the damages for any personal injuries that may have been incurred. Again, the concept of negligence and how a reasonable person would behave in this situation will be considered. One can’t expect that the driver would just simply hit the pedestrian and move on. No reasonable person would so if the defendant did something to avoid another potential accident, how much he is at fault will be determined based on these special circumstances. If the brakes of the car suddenly fail and the defendant is unable to stop the car and hits another vehicle, there might be some leniency. The vehicle must be inspected to establish that the brakes were the problem, that the driver was indeed unaware that such a problem existed etc. All these factors will have to be conclusively established before throwing out blame.
The above discussion demonstrates that personal injury claims can be quite complex. Often the parties involved are so focused on blaming each other that they fail to see the situation from a neutral angle and from a legal perspective as well. That is why it is important to consult a lawyer who has significant experience in dealing with such cases and such scenarios.
Find Out How Fault Determination Affects Your Georgia Personal Injury Claim
If you have a personal injury claim to file in Rome, GA and if you are unsure of how to proceed, how much you can claim, the evidence you will need to provide and the steps you need to take to ensure you get adequate compensation, contact our attorneys at Bader Law Firm. We have a team of lawyers who understand the requirements of the State and who know what the judge will consider when establishing fault and when determining the extent of damages that you should get. Every case is not an open and shut one. And you have to understand that the other party’s insurance company is not going to simply hand over the money on a silver platter. If you want to get the compensation you deserve, you need to find the right legal counsel to help you achieve just that.