Contributory Fault

Stephen R. Hasner
Managing Partner at Hasner Law PC
May 10, 2024

When some accidents happen, it is sometimes fairly easy to determine what happened and who is at fault. If a car fails to stop at an intersection where the driver had a stop sign, then that driver will likely be at fault. But what if the other driver also did something to contribute to the accident? What if that driver was speeding when they hit the driver who blew the stop sign? Should they both be responsible for the accident?

For accidents involving multiple at-fault parties, a legal term known as contributory fault can come into play. 

The Different Types of Fault

Every state across the country has its own legal standards for handling personal injury lawsuits. Value is often at issue. If more than one person contributed to your accident, it is important to understand how fault can affect your case.

There are three main types of fault that exist in personal injury claims: contributory fault, comparative fault, and modified comparative fault. Your state’s fault standards can determine how much compensation you will receive if any.

What is Contributory Fault?

Historically, contributory fault was the way courts dealt with accidents involving shared blame. However, contributory fault is now only followed in four states and Washington D.C. 

Contributory fault bars an accident victim from recovering damages if they share any fault for the accident. Being even 1% at fault for an accident can result in no compensation for your injuries. So, if you have $1,000,000 in damages but are slightly to blame, then you could not receive compensation under this rule. 

Luckily, if you are making a claim in Georgia, you will not be facing this harsh standard. 

What is Comparative Fault?

Comparative fault is broken into two main categories: pure comparative fault and modified comparative fault. Twelve states use pure comparative fault. Under pure comparative fault, an accident victim can recover compensation for their accident so long as they are not completely at fault. However, their damages will be reduced to account for their share of fault. 

For example, say you suffer $100,000 worth of damages in an accident and are 30% at fault in a pure comparative fault state. In this case, your maximum recovery will be reduced by 30,000 (30%).

Under modified comparative fault standards, you can still recover compensation if you are partly at fault for the accident. However, you cannot recover compensation if you are more than 50% or 51% at fault, depending on the state. 

Georgia uses a modified comparative fault standard with a 50% bar. So, if you suffer $100,000 worth of damages but are 50% or more at fault, you won’t receive compensation in Georgia. If the court instead finds that you are 49% at fault, then you would receive up to $51,000 in compensation for your damages. 

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

An Atlanta personal injury attorney can be helpful in several ways. An attorney can help you understand the law in Georgia and how it will apply to your case. Once you understand the rules of the game, you will be much better suited to make confident decisions about how you can get the maximum compensation possible. An assessment of fault by your attorney can be vital in determining your next steps. 

Insurance companies will use Georgia’s modified comparative negligence rules to their advantage. If they can shift 50% or more of the blame to you, they pay nothing for your damages. That’s why it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side. Your attorney will challenge an at-fault party’s allegations of comparative fault to get you the compensation you deserve.

Contact an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney for more information.

Author Stephen Headshot
Managing Partner at Hasner Law PC
Follow Me!
Stephen Hasner is the founder and managing partner of Hasner Law PC. Since being licensed in Florida in 1997 and in Georgia in 1999, Stephen has worked tirelessly to help Georgia residents navigate the legal process following a serious injury. This includes injuries sustained at work, in motor vehicle accidents, and in cases of personal injury. The team at Hasner Law is dedicated to securing compensation for their clients who have been injured through no fault of their own.