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Posted by Monica on Mar 15, 2015

Modified Comparative Negligence at Work

They say that it takes two to tango. This is true when it comes to personal injury, because there needs to be at least two parties involved: the tortfeasor (the doer of a wrongful act) and the victim. Another crucial factor in a tort case is the element of fault. One party (presumably the tortfeasor) is the proximate cause of the adverse event that led to harm to the victim. However, assigning fault also takes into account if the victim took reasonable measures to ensure his or her own safety.

One of the most common defenses by a tortfeasor in a personal injury claim is that the victim was partly or solely at fault for what happened. For example, if a car traveling beyond the posted speed limit struck a jaywalking pedestrian, a jury may find the pedestrian partly at fault for the accident. This defense is a reasonable, and in some states that follow the pure contributory negligence doctrine, this can bar the pedestrian (victim) from getting compensation.

In Atlanta, however, there is something called modified comparative negligence at work. Under the pure comparative negligence doctrine, the victim (plaintiff) can sue the defendant for compensation even if the victim was mostly (up to 99%) at fault, and the award is merely reduced by what the jury finds to be the percentage of fault of the plaintiff. An Atlanta lawyer would explain that modified comparative negligence in the whole of the state of Georgia means that if the plaintiff is equal or less than 50% (51% in other states) at fault, the plaintiff can still sue for damages, but the award is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff.

So, taking the above example, if the jury finds the pedestrian is 30% at fault, and awards damages of $100,000, the plaintiff gets $70,000.

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