Do I still have a claim if the accident is partially my fault?
- July 28, 2016
Generally, personal injury claims constitute legal disputes when a person suffers an injury from an accident caused by another party’s actions. These are civil suits, not criminal actions. Though many civil lawsuits are the result of injury inflicted during a crime. The most famous instance being former football superstar O.J. Simpson being found not guilty of homicide in a criminal case but having a $33 million judgement held against him for responsibility of those same homicides.
The majority of people do believe a personal injury matter is usually filed by a victim that can prove someone else has to be held fully accountable for the accident and its results. But what if the victim was partially responsible for the incident, are you still entitled to compensation for your expenses related to the accident, even if you were injured?
The answer to that question, like with many legal issues, can depend on many factors. The first one is the state where the accident took place. There are states that bar compensation under the contributory negligence theory. This principle is used to determine the relevancy of liability based on a plaintiff’s own contribution to the accident that caused their injury. Other states allow recovery to plaintiffs if the injury falls under the comparative negligence theory. This is a statute that can reduce the amount of compensation a plaintiff can recover depending on the depth of their partial responsible in the accident that caused their injury. Other states have a no fault law.
Applying the theory of comparative negligence, one can sue another party for compensation even if the accident was partially or completely their fault. But if the court decides to apply comparative negligence, any compensatory judgement will be diminished based on a percentage of the plaintiff’s contribution to the incident. You could be awarded $10,000 and if it’s ruled you are 50 percent responsible, you are entitled to only half the award. There also comparative negligence that state if the plaintiff is more than 50 percent at fault, they are not entitled to any compensation.
Compared to comparative negligence, contributory negligence can result in harsher decisions. If applied in a contributory negligence state, you are not eligible for any compensatory judgement if you are even one percent to blame for an incident, despite the severity of any bodily injury. While California is safe from this one, the states of Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and the District of Columbia follow the tenets of contributory negligence.
In states which allow no fault, insurance will always cover a certain amount of damages regardless of whom was at fault for an accident.
In the end, even if you are partially responsible for the accident that caused your injury, under many circumstances you can sue for compensation. In this case where blame is ambiguous though, a determination of fault can have a dynamic influence on the outcome of your personal injury suit. This is why it is greatly advised one never admit fault at the scene of an accident. Instead, stick to the details in your statements to police and insurance companies.
Knowing what your rights are in an accident where you may be partially responsible requires a careful review of the facts and the law. A good personal injury attorney will know how to review the matter, what processes need to be applied to each individual case and if you should pursue the matter in court at all.
If you have been in an accident – regardless of fault – that has resulted in an injury to you or a loved one, you should have a consultation as soon as possible with a local personal injury lawyer familiar with the kind of accident you were involved in. The first consultation will be free, but it will be the first step to knowing what your next move should be. If they take your case, it will likely be on a contingency basis, meaning you will not be responsible for service payments unless the case is won in your favor.