In a Georgia negligence action, a plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant owed a duty to commit an act or refrain from committing an act; the defendant breached their duty; the breach of the duty caused an injury to the plaintiff; the defendant’s actions were the proximate cause of the injury and the plaintiff suffered damages.
Modified Comparative Negligence
Per Ga. Code Ann. § 51-12-33(g), Georgia is a modified comparative negligence state which means the Court will apportion fault for the injury amongst all parties in the suit. If the plaintiff is found to have been 50% or more at fault for their own injury, they will be barred from monetary recovery. Under this method, if the plaintiff is found to be 49% or less responsible for their injury, they will be permitted to recover in proportion to the attributed percentage of fault.
For example, if the plaintiff suffered damages in the amount of $1,000,000 and court or jury finds the defendant to be 90% at fault, the plaintiff would be entitled to recover since their portion of fault was only 10% (less than 50%) and would receive a damage award of $900,000.
In 2005 Georgia abolished joint and several liability amongst tortfeasors and instead allows a Court to reduce a plaintiff’s damage award in proportion to his percentage of fault and consider the percentage of fault of non-parties solely for the purpose of determining the fault of named parties. O.C.G.A. §51-12-33, states that each joint tortfeasor is liable only for his portion of the damages. The statute also allows the Court to consider the negligence or fault of a non-party if the plaintiff entered into a settlement agreement with the non-party or if a remaining defending party gives notice not later than 120 days prior to the date of trial that a non-party was at fault.
Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for injuries suffered as a result of the negligence of the defendant(s). The award is meant to restore the plaintiff – as much as possible – to the condition they were in prior to the injury occurring.
In Georgia, compensatory damages include an award for the pain, discomfort, suffering, disability, disfigurement, reasonable expenses of necessary medical care and treatment, lost earnings and loss of earning capacity, loss of love, care, companionship, and enjoyment of life.
Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant rather than to compensate the plaintiff. In Georgia, punitive damages are awarded if there is clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s conduct rose to the level of willful misconduct, malice, fraud, or a conscious indifference to the consequences of their actions.
If the case at hand does not involve an intentional tort or a products liability action, the monetary amount of the punitive damages that can be awarded are limited to $250,000. However, the law in Georgia does not limit the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded in products liability cases.
The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.
By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Georgia. Should you have a question/concern specific to Georgia law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia.