What Happens If I Am Partially At Fault In a Personal Injury Car Accident Claim?
Negligence is one of the main ways for attorneys to prove fault in a personal injury accident, and in many instances, that negligence is proved through evidence that is hard to contradict.
But what happens if a claimant is shown to have contributed in some way to the accident or event that triggered the personal injury civil suit?
The answer is that depending on the state you live in, if you are found to be at fault even slightly in a personal injury claim, your damages may be reduced, or your case may be thrown out entirely.
Contributory and Comparative Negligence In Personal Injury Cases
There are two main types of negligence in personal injury cases, contributory and comparative. Contributory negligence is any action that a claimant took that helped caused the accident, even if that action was very minor.
In five states, a claimant who is found to have contributed in any way to the accident is barred from collecting any damages in a civil suit.
Comparative negligence is the model the other states follow. With comparative negligence, the fault of the claimant and the defendant is determined, and damages are awarded based on the percentage of negligence.
For example, if a claimant is found to be 20 percent at fault for an accident, he or she could only recover 80 percent of the damages.
Some states follow a ‘pure comparative negligence rule,’ in which a claimant is awarded a percentage for damages even if the claimant is 98 percent at fault for the accident. In that example, the claimant would only receive 2 percent of the awarded amount.
Other states – including Texas – follow a ‘modified comparative negligence rule.’ In 33 states, a claimant who is found to be 49 percent or less at fault can collect a percentage of the damages. But if the claimant’s fault is 50 percent or more, he or she cannot collect any damages.
In 21 states, a claimant who is found to be 50 percent or less at fault can still collect a percentage of the damages, but if the claimant’s fault exceeds 50 percent, he or she cannot collect any damages.
Getting Help From a Personal Injury Attorney
Personal injury claims are rarely easy to navigate, and if there are issues about which party contributed to an accident, the process can become even more complicated. That’s why it’s never a good idea to try and negotiate with the other side’s insurance company by yourself, because there are many nuances to the law that can affect your claim.
The Elissa I. Henry Law Firm, PLLC has attorneys who have significant experience in personal injury claims and the standards of fault necessary to win a case. Please give us a call today at (512) 766-4529 to schedule a time for a consultation.