APPORTIONMENT OF DAMAGES IN GEORGIA – IMPORTANT CASES INTERPRETING THE 2005 AMENDMENTS TO OCGA § 51-12-33

In many situations, Georgia’s apportionment of damages statute, O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33, can work to the Plaintiff’s advantage.  Even though the plaintiff may be at fault to some extent, the plaintiff can still recover a substantial portion of his or her damages, as long as he or she is less than 50% at fault.  Where there are there are multiple defendants, even if the jury determines all parties to have been equally at fault, the plaintiff can still recover.  For instance, where there are three defendants, and one plaintiff, if the jury found all four parties to have been 25% at fault, under § 51-12-33, the plaintiff will be entitled to recover 75% of his or her damages.

CAVALIER CONVENIENCE, INC. v. SARVIS, et al., 305 Ga. App. 141 (2010): “In accordance with the legislature’s unambiguous language in OCGA § 51-12-33 (b), we hold that where damages are to be awarded in an action brought against more than one person for injury to person or property — whether or not such damages must be reduced pursuant to OCGA § 51-12-33 (a) — the trier of fact “shall . . . apportion its award of damages among the persons who are liable according to the percentage of fault of each person.”

BAILEY v. ANNISTOWN ROAD BAPTIST CHURCH, INC. et al., 301 Ga. App. 677 (2009): Failure to charge the jury on the provisions of OCGA § 51-12-33(g), that “the plaintiff may not recover if he or she is 50 percent or more responsible for the injury or damages claimed,” was harmful as a matter of law.

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