In a previous post, we discussed whether you have the right to sue if you were injured in a motorcycle accident but weren't wearing a helmet. Georgia law requires all motorcyclists to wear a helmet will riding. However, failing to wear a helmet does not automatically mean the other driver is off the hook. It depends on the amount of negligence each party has--which, in the legal community, is known as "comparative negligence." Today we will examine this concept in more detail.
Under Georgia's comparative negligence statute, the court will assess the respective negligence of both parties. If the defendant is found to more than 50 percent at fault for the accident, then the plaintiff may be eligible to claim some compensation for the injury. The greater the defendant's negligence, the greater the compensation for the plaintiff. If the plaintiff is shown to have a small amount of fault (e.g., 20 percent fault), then the plaintiff's compensation will be reduced proportionally.
However, if a motorcyclist (i.e., the plaintiff) was not wearing a helmet during the accident, the defendant (i.e., the other driver) may be off the hook if the plaintiff is found to be more than 50% at fault by their failure to wear a helmet. If the plaintiff's own negligent behavior is more than 50% at fault, they cannot recover any compensation for their injury.
Comparative negligence, sometimes called comparative fault, is an important concept to understand. Being able to unequivocally demonstrate that your fault is lower that the defendant is essential to a successful lawsuit. If you are filing a personal injury claim, it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side who can clearly argue for your rights.