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Comparative Negligence and Your Legal Recourse When Partially At Fault in a Car Accident

Posted May 29, 2019 | News

Philadelphia, PA Personal Injury Lawyer

Someone rear-ended your vehicle, causing significant damage to your car and several injuries to your person. As far as you see it, the accident was 100% the fault of the other driver. However, what will a jury think? Did you suddenly apply your brake? Were you wearing a seat belt? What was your speed? These questions and more will determine your level of liability in the accident, and in states that use comparative negligence, you may see a reduced payout depending on your percentage of shared responsibility.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is a tort rule that helps to allocate damages if both the plaintiff and defendant are partially responsible for an accident. Therefore, a jury may hold both parties accountable by applying a percentage of liability. For instance, if the jury finds in favor of damages worth $100,000 but also finds the plaintiff 20% responsible for the wreck, then the allotted recovery would reduce by $20,000, resulting in a judgment of $80,000.

Percentage of Blame

In some states, a plaintiff may only sue if their percent of the blame is below a certain number. For instance, if a jury finds the plaintiff 50% responsible for the accident, then they cannot recover damages. However, this is not a hard and fast rule, and without factual grounds for attributing fault, a plaintiff may challenge the decision.

Attributing Fault

While a jury may get the numbers wrong, there are ways to seek proof from reputable sources when assigning fault. The most logical place to search out such proof is reviewing the official accident report. Also, you can use medical records and receipts from repairs to show the extent of damage compared to the defendant.

Trial Worthiness

Once you gather all the relevant pieces of information, it is time to review the trial worthiness of your claim. Do you share a significant portion of the blame, or does the evidence suggest otherwise? Does the defendant have adequate insurance coverage, or is there no way to recover your losses financially? Answering these questions will illuminate the viability of a trail.

Competent Representation

Last, you will want to take your compiled information to an attorney. However, it is crucial that you find an attorney specializing in car accidents and not just personal injury law. While both attorneys are likely competent, a car accident attorney will probably understand the ins-and-outs of collision cases.

In comparative negligence states, suing is likely a difficult decision. While you may want restitution, you may be partly to blame for the accident. Contact a Philadelphia, PA personal injury lawyer from Wieand Law Firm, LLC to help you decide whether a trial is right for you.