Understanding Comparative and Contributory Negligence


Georgia has a thriving tourism industry and people from all over the world want to visit our amazing cities. As great as it is for our economy, it also brings thousands of drivers with different driving styles and oftentimes different personal injury laws. Like many states in the U.S., Georgia follows an “at-fault” system, otherwise known as comparative negligence, for determining liability in personal injury cases. Conversely, some of our neighboring states follow contributory negligence, which can add a layer of complexity to personal injury cases. Understanding these concepts may be helpful when traveling or if you’re in an accident that involves an out of state party.

The Foundations of At-Fault Systems

In an “at-fault” or “tort” system, determining fault is essential in personal injury cases. Comparative and Contributory Negligence are two legal doctrines used to allocate fault and assess liability for damages which impacts the amount of compensation for affected parties.

Comparative Negligence – Georgia follows the doctrine of “pure comparative negligence.” Under this system, each involved party is attributed a percentage of fault for the accident. This means that even the injured party may be at least partially to blame. The amount of compensation for the injured party may be reduced proportionally based on their percentage of fault. The party that is more than 50% at-fault is unable to obtain compensation.

For example, if a slip and fall victim is found to be 25% responsible for their injuries due to not paying attention to warning signs, and the property owner is found 75% responsible for failing to maintain safe premises, the victim’s compensation will be reduced by 25% to account for their share of fault. If the calculated damages are $100,000, the compensation would be reduced by 25%, for a final compensation of $75,000.

Contributory Negligence – Under contributory negligence, if the injured party is found even partially at fault for their injuries, they are completely barred from recovering any compensation. If the injured party is even 1% at fault (an extreme hypothetical), they can’t recover damages. Fortunately, Georgia adopts the more lenient “pure comparative negligence” approach, which allows injured parties to receive compensation even if they bear some responsibility for the accident.

Product Liability in Georgia

Unlike slip and fall or car accidents, cases involving defective products follow the doctrine of “strict liability.” This means that manufacturers, distributors, and sellers can be held strictly liable for any injuries caused by their products, regardless of whether they were negligent or not.

Under strict liability, the injured party doesn’t need to prove that the manufacturer was negligent in the design, production, or labeling of the product. Nor should they. As consumers, we expect the products put on the shelves to be safe and effective

Legal Guidance for Fair Compensation

When facing personal injury cases anywhere, it can be overwhelming to consider all the variables that may impact your right to compensation. Even if you weren’t at fault for the accident, you have to expect that the other party’s attorney is already working on a defense to make sure their client is responsible for as little as possible. Working with a knowledgeable attorney will give you the edge you need to thoroughly investigate the circumstances leading to the accident and fight aggressively to get you the highest possible payout. 

If you have suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligence or a defective product, it’s absolutely essential that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Remember, having the right legal support can make all the difference in achieving a fair outcome and finding the justice you deserve. At Robin Frazer Clark, P.C., we’re dedicated to fighting on your behalf. For a free consultation, call (404) 873.3700 today.

American Association for Justice Badge
Georgia Trend Legal Elite Badge
State Bar of Georgia Badge
Georgia Trial Lawyers Association Badge
LCA Badge
Top 50 Women attorneys in Georgia Badge
Super Lawyers Badge
Civil Justice Badge
International Society of Barristers Badge
Top 25 National Women Trial Lawyers Badge
Contact Information