What if I am partially to blame for my car
Except in rear-end collisions and other scenarios where
fault is pretty obvious, car accident claims typically involve a lot of finger
pointing among the drivers involved in the crash. Even when a driver accepts
responsibility at the scene of the accident, his or her car insurance company
may later say “not so fast” and try to lay blame elsewhere.
In car accident claims, as with any other kind of personal
injury case, when more than one person is legally liable
for causing the accident, any fault-finding in a resulting lawsuit will be
governed by the contributory and comparative negligence rules that are in place
in the state.
The majority of states follow some form of “comparative
negligence,” which allows a plaintiff to collect personal
injury damages from a defendant even when the plaintiff was partially to
blame for the accident. But the plaintiff’s damages award will be reduced by an
amount that matches his or her share of the fault. So, let’s say the plaintiff
suffered $10,000 in damages after a car accident for which she was deemed 35
percent to blame. The plaintiff would then only be able to collect $6,500 from
the defendant (who bears 65 percent of the blame).
It’s a very different story in the handful of states that
follow a “contributory negligence” rule. An injured plaintiff can’t recover
anything at all from other at-fault drivers if the plaintiff’s own negligence
played any role in causing the accident (even one percent).
Learn more about Contributory
and Comparative Negligence in Car Accident Cases.
by: David Goguen, J.D.