Partial Fault Accidents: Damages Available?

Partial Fault Accidents: Damages Available?

I Was Injured in an Auto Accident But I Was Partly At Fault. Can I Still Receive Damages?

Personal injury cases arising from car accidents are often settled by insurance companies out of court. If two parties are involved, insurance claim adjusters usually determine which driver was at fault. Sometimes it’s difficult to assign fault to one driver, and it’s possible that both people were partly responsible for the accident. If you live in a state that compensates injury victims based on who was at fault, you should learn about contributory and comparative negligence. 

Contributory Negligence

This category of negligence law denies injured drivers recovery of damages if they were at fault or partially at fault for the accident. Insurance companies will find that the plaintiff’s conduct was not reasonable and caused risk to themselves or they did not uphold their duty to protect others. An example:

  • Driver A, the plaintiff, was texting while driving and pulled out too far at a stop sign.
  • Driver B, the defendant, was speeding and was not able to slow down in time to avoid driver A.
  • Driver A was injured and filed a claim against driver B.
  • The investigation determined driver A was negligent since she was distracted by texting. Therefore, she failed to follow safe driving practices. 
  • Driver A is not allowed to collect any damages.

Fewer states rely on contributory negligence and have now adopted a shared responsibility approach to awarding compensation.

Comparative Negligence

Currently, most states use comparative negligence, assigning a percentage of blame to each party involved in the accident. This allows the injured person to collect a portion of damages even if they were partly at fault. For example, insurance companies find a plaintiff to be 30% responsible for the accident, and the defendant is assigned the remaining 70%. The plaintiff then collects 70% of the total damages amount.

No-Fault States

Several states with “no-fault” laws, require drivers to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to cover their own injury costs. Injured persons receive quick payouts since there are no investigations to determine who was at fault. In cases of catastrophic injury, filing personal injury lawsuits can help injured drivers recover additional compensation for medical expenses that exceed insurance policy limits. 

Negligence and auto insurance laws vary state-to-state so it’s best to seek advice if you are partly at fault in a car accident. A personal injury lawyer can file a counterclaim if you are sued for negligence, or they can help you prove the other driver was primarily at fault. Search online or ask for referrals for a reputable personal injury lawyer, like Hurwitz, Whitcher & Molloy, LLP, in your area today.