When you file a car accident claim, the first thing that your insurance company does is start an investigation to determine exactly what happened. Based on the results of this investigation, as well as cooperation with law enforcement and the other party’s insurance company, both parties are assigned a percentage of fault for which they are held liable in an accident. In some cases, total fault is assigned to one party, but it’s far more common that both sides are assigned at least a certain percentage of fault. If both the plaintiff and defendant in an injury case accept their share of the fault, they reach what is known as a split liability agreement.
The Effect on Your Claim
In short, a split liability agreement is a compromise. By mutually agreeing to accept a certain portion of the responsibility for an incident, both parties can avoid the hassle of litigating the fault of an accident and proceed with collecting compensation. If your car accident was extremely complex and you have very little chance of winning outright at trial, then a split liability agreement could be beneficial to move your claim along in the process. However, in other cases this could jeopardize the outcome for someone who is perhaps assigned more fault than they should have.
When you enter into a split liability agreement, the percentage of fault you are assigned will have an impact on your settlement. To put it simply, your final settlement is reduced by the percentage you are held at fault for, and Georgia law allows you to recover compensation, so long as you are at fault for less than 50 percent of your accident. If you are 50 percent or more at fault, you are not eligible to receive compensation for your losses.
To understand this better, let’s look at an example. Say you are backing out of a parking spot and are rear-ended by a driver who was sending a text message while speeding through the parking long. The investigation concludes and you and the other party come to an agreement that you were 20 percent at fault (for failing to properly check your surroundings when backing out) and the other party is 80 percent at fault. The other party offers you $20,000 in compensation for your losses. Should you accept this amount, you will only receive $16,000 which is a 20 percent reduction based on the percentage of fault you agreed to.
Should I Accept a Split Liability Agreement?
While a split liability agreement can have a number of benefits, it’s strongly advised that you don’t accept any settlements without first reviewing the offer with your attorney. Whether it’s a total dollar amount to bring your case to a close or a preliminary investigation that assigns you a percentage of fault, a skilled Atlanta car accident lawyer can analyze the evidence and determine the best course of action. It’s not uncommon for the other party’s insurance company to attempt to act quickly and assign you a higher percentage of fault than you should be given and then severely under-cut your potential settlement payment and then convince you to take it through intimidating tactics. A skilled attorney will have seen these techniques before and is not afraid to hold them responsible in order to get you the best possible conclusion.
Pratt Clay, LLC has recovered more than $70 million on behalf of our clients, and we can help you reach the conclusion your case deserves. We are beloved by our clients, respected by our peers, and feared by insurance companies thanks to our longstanding record of success and willingness to go the extra mile to help our clients obtain the best possible outcome. No matter how small or how large your case is, our professional staff will guide you through every step of your case and give you the ability to focus on your recovery with the confidence that your best interests are in capable hands.
Call Pratt Clay, LLC at 404-566-9460 and schedule a free case review to get started today!