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If I'm partially at fault for a crash, can I still seek damages?

There are some types of motor vehicle accidents that are pretty straightforward in terms of fault. Maybe one driver ran a red light, or someone was speeding and lost control of his or her vehicle. In other cases, however, fault is more complicated to establish because there is more than one person responsible.

For instance, you might assume that a drunk driver who gets into an accident would automatically be at fault. This is only partially true. A drunk driver can be liable for the crash, but so can other parties, including injured victims. However, this doesn't mean that victims cannot recover damages.

In Georgia, we have what are called comparative negligence laws. In accordance with these laws, anyone who is involved in an accident can seek damages, even if he or she contributed to the accident or injuries to some extent.

That last part -- "to some extent" -- is a very important piece of this law. While you can seek damages if you were also negligent, you can only do so if you were less than 50 percent to blame for the crash.

For instance, let's imagine you get in the car with someone who you know has been drinking. If that person gets into a crash, you could be named partially negligent for failing to exercise a degree of care. However, it may be determined that your negligence was only 20 percent to blame for your injuries, while the drunk driver may be assigned 80 percent of the blame.

In this scenario, you could certainly seek damages. However, any amount that you are awarded would be reduced by 20 percent, or a percentage equal to your negligence.

Too many people assume they cannot recover any compensation for the physical, financial and emotional damages suffered in a crash if they were partially to blame for that crash. This can be an incredible costly assumption, as it could prevent a person from collecting compensation he or she greatly needs and deserves.

If you have been injured in an accident with a drunk or otherwise negligent driver, it would be wise to consult an attorney before you make any assumptions about your legal options or accept any type of settlement.

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