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How Is Fault Determined in a Multi-Vehicle Accident?

April 1, 2021Car Accident

Georgia is a fault insurance state. Under this system, drivers whose negligent actions cause accidents must pay for the damages of their victims. The victims can recover this compensation through an insurance claim or lawsuit.

However, liability in car accidents is not always straightforward. In some cases, multiple vehicles may be involved in the collision. If you are in a multi-vehicle accident, determining fault can be a challenge—and you may need a car accident attorney’s assistance.

Common Causes of Georgia Car Accidents

All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles safely and to adhere to all applicable traffic laws. If a driver commits an act that breaches this duty of care—or fails to act when he or she should have—the driver will be liable for any accident that occurs due to his or her duty of care. A breach of someone’s duty of care is also known as negligence.

Many acts of negligence can lead to car accidents in Georgia, including the following.

  • Running a red light or stop sign
  • Driving over the posted speed limit
  • Failure to yield the right of way
  • Unsafe lane changes
  • Driving under the influence
  • Distracted driving
  • Drowsy driving

Assigning Fault in a Georgia Multi-Vehicle Accident

In car accidents involving two vehicles, identifying the at-fault party is often much simpler than a multi-vehicle accident. Attorneys and insurance companies will analyze the actions of both drivers, identify who committed the breach of duty, and identify who suffered injuries as a result of the breach. In multi-vehicle accidents, however, investigators will need to examine the actions of every driver involved.

The driver who failed to uphold his or her duty of care and started the accident will likely be liable for the collision. However, this is not always the case; multi-vehicle accidents can be very complex and unique. Investigators will need to perform an in-depth investigation to determine how the accident occurred and which driver—or drivers—committed a negligent act. Attorneys can enlist the help of expert witnesses, such as accident reconstruction specialists, who can help determine liability.

Comparative Fault in Georgia Multi-Vehicle Accidents

In many multi-vehicle accidents, more than one driver is responsible for the collision. Attorneys can help identify the at-fault party, and in these situations, the victims can file a claim against all liable parties to secure compensation for their injuries. If the court later discovers that a plaintiff is partially responsible for the accident, his or her award can be at risk.

Georgia follows a modified comparative negligence rule in these situations. Under this law, the court will reduce a plaintiff’s personal injury award if the court finds that he or she shares a portion of the fault. If the plaintiff is 50% or more responsible for the accident, the court will prevent him or her from recovering any compensation.

For example, if a court assigns 30% of the fault to a plaintiff in a multi-car accident, he or she could only recover $14,000 out of his or her original $20,000 award. If the court assigns 55% of the liability, the plaintiff will receive $0.

Consult an Attorney for a Multi-Car Accident

If you are in an accident involving multiple vehicles, you need a personal injury attorney on your side. Not only can a Georgia car accident lawyer help you identify the at-fault party, but he or she can also protect you against accusations of shared liability. As soon as possible following your accident, contact a lawyer to discuss your legal options.