Georgia Car Accident Compensation Laws

Is the “Peach State” the most underrated state in the nation? There’s certainly an argument for it: Georgia not only bears famous fruit, but Atlanta is one of the greatest cities in the country and is home to top-tier pro and college sports teams, world-class universities, and has inspired iconic music for decades – from Ray Charles to Ludacris. With so much to do and see in Georgia, tourists and residents alike should be familiar with the state’s laws for car accident compensation – which rule any wrecks, whether they involve tourists or native Atlantans.

Below, you'll find a table laying out Georgia's car accident compensation laws, followed by in-depth explanations of the key elements.

Statute of Limitations

two years from the date of the car accident to file a lawsuit for personal injury (Ga. Code § 9-3-33)

four years from the date of the car accident to file a lawsuit for property damage (Ga. Code § 9-3-32)

Limits on Damages

No cap on compensatory damages. (Atlanta Oculoplastic Surgery, PC v. Nestlehutt, 691 SE 2d 218 (2010)

Punitive damages limited to $250,000. (Georgia Code Title 51. Torts § 51-12-5.1)

Other Limits

Modified comparative fault can prevent or limit recovery, depending on the driver's percentage of fault for the accident. (Georgia Code Title 51. Torts § 51-11-7)

Georgia's 'At Fault' and 'Modified Comparative Fault' Rules

As remarkable as Georgia and its capital city are, it’s car accident rules are not nearly as exciting -- Georgia is one of many U.S. states to employ "at fault" (also known as a "tort liability") rules for car accident claims. Drivers involved in car accidents who seek compensation from the other driver must prove that the other party was at fault for the accident.

How much fault? Georgia is a "modified comparative negligence" (often referred to as "modified comparative fault") state. In order to recover compensation for car accident injuries or property damages, one must be less at fault than the other party. This is measured by percentages which are calculated by the judge or jury after a trial (assuming the claim doesn’t settle first): a measure of 50% or more fault bars that party from recovering. Damages are reduced by the percentage as well -- a person who is 40% at fault would only recover 60% of his damages.

Types of Damages

Examples of damages that result from car accidents include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical costs
  • Vehicle repair or replacement
  • Rental cars
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of affection or companionship
  • Wrongful death

Limits on Damages

Thanks to a Georgia Supreme Court decision in 2010, which held that a cap on compensatory damages violated the state’s constitution, there are almost no limits on damages that can be recovered in a car accident case, whether the damages be to one’s property or for harder to measure injuries, like compensation for pain and suffering.

However, there is one type of damages that is limited: punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish a party for particularly reprehensible conduct – in the case of a car accident, an example might be a drunk driver who caused severe and permanent injury to another party in a collision. These damages are limited to $250,000.

And, as with nearly all legal claims, there is a time limit (know as the statute of limitations) for filing your case. Georgia has two different time limits: two years from the date of the car accident to file a lawsuit for personal injury and four years to file for property damage. Pending insurance claims won’t delay or extend that time limit, so it is important to consult with an attorney early to evaluate the strength of your claim and to make sure you meet the filing deadline.

Have a Georgia Car Accident Attorney Review Your Claim for Free

Time limits for filing claims and comparative negligence rules can be significant obstacles, and sometimes outright blocks, to car accident claims. Obtain a free claim evaluation from an experienced attorney on the strengths of your case and how much compensation may be available.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

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