Georgia is not a no-fault state when it comes to motor vehicle accident claims. If another person causes your injury in an accident through their negligence, you are not required to pursue compensation through your own insurance policy. As a resident in a fault state, you have the right to pursue legal action against the other driver and hold them responsible for their carelessness.
Understanding how Georgia’s fault rules impact your personal injury claim is important. Compared to accident victims in no-fault states, you enjoy greater rights regarding the pursuit of the compensation you deserve.
The Difference Between No-Fault and Fault States
Ultimately, the difference between fault and no-fault states boils down when an accident victim can file an injury lawsuit. While no-fault states require drivers to rely on their own insurance first, fault states allow these injury victims to sue the responsible party outright.
That does not mean lawsuits are impossible in no-fault states. In a no-fault state, the law requires drivers to seek compensation from their own insurance policy—in most cases. In the majority of these states, there are circumstances where a driver can ignore these no-fault provisions and pursue legal action against the other driver. This typically occurs when that individual has suffered serious bodily injuries.
Fault states are different in that they allow an injury victim to seek legal action any time their accident results from another person’s negligence. Most states—including Georgia—follow these rules. In a fault state, a driver only needs to establish that the other driver involved in the crash was negligent in causing the accident. Negligence could involve any careless or reckless act that causes a motor vehicle collision.
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Establishing Fault in Georgia
In order for a plaintiff to successfully pursue an injury claim in a fault state like Georgia, they must establish all four elements of negligence. The failure to establish one of them is fatal to an injury lawsuit.
These elements include:
Duty of care
The initial step for proving negligence involves establishing that a duty of care exists between the plaintiff and the defendant. While establishing the duty can be challenging in some types of cases, that is not how it is with motor vehicle accidents. This is because every driver owes each other the duty to drive in a safe and responsible way.
Negligence involves the breach of a duty of care. Demonstrating that a breach occurred is often one of the primary contentions in a personal injury lawsuit. The duty of care could be breached in a variety of ways when it comes to motor vehicle accidents.
Some common examples include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Traveling at unsafe speeds
There must also be a link between the breached duty of care and the injuries a driver suffered. This link is referred to as causation. This step is necessary given that the defendant is only responsible for those injuries they caused through their negligence.
The final step in the process requires proof of damages. A plaintiff that has not suffered damages is not entitled to financial compensation. These damages could cover a variety of losses stemming from the vehicle accident, including:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Mobility aids
You could recover other losses as well, depending on how the accident occurred and shaped your life. For instance, you could pursue wrongful death damages after losing a family member.
Minimum Insurance Requirements
Because Georgia is a fault state, there are minimum financial responsibility requirements every driver must meet. This financial responsibility typically comes in the form of motor vehicle insurance. The minimum levels of liability insurance are set by the Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR).
These insurance levels include:
- $25,000 of bodily injury coverage per person
- $50,000 of bodily injury coverage per accident
- $25,000 of property damage coverage per accident
It is worth noting that only liability insurance is required of Georgia drivers. This means that while every motorist must carry insurance coverage that protects them against third-party liability claims, not every driver will have coverage that pays their own expenses after an accident. Drivers that are injured in a crash and lack comprehensive auto coverage often rely on personal injury lawsuits to obtain compensation for their injuries.
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Speak to Your Attorney About Your Injury Claim
Because Georgia is a fault state, the role of your personal injury lawyer is important following a motor vehicle accident. They could evaluate the strength of your claim before pursuing the compensation you deserve.
If you are ready to pursue a claim or personal injury lawsuit, Kaine Law is ready to help. Our team has a winning track record when it comes to motor vehicle injury claims. To learn how we could help following a vehicle crash, call (404) 214-2001 and get your free consultation today.