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Determining Who is at fault in Personal Injury Accidents

By Eric Giordano posted 04-13-2020 09:43 AM


Proving who is at fault for an injury or accident is not always as straightforward as it may seem. It usually depends on whether someone was careless or “negligent.” In most cases, there is one person that’s less careful than the other. If negligence can be proved, the careless person is responsible for at least a portion of the damages suffered.   

Factors that determine legal liability

  • If the injured party was also careless, compensation might be reduced by the extent to which this carelessness contributed to the accident. This is called comparative negligence.  
  • A duty of care must exist between two parties for one to be liable to another for injuries. 
  • In some cases, there may be no duty of care due to the actions taken by the injured party, such as entering a restricted area illegally. 
  • An employer may also be liable if a careless person causes an accident while working for the employer. 
  • If the accident is a result of careless maintenance of a property, the owner is liable. Attorneys at Thomas Law Offices are used to dealing with such cases and will fight a case to make sure an injured person gets the financial help needed to recover. 
  • If the accident is caused by a defective product, the manufacturer and person selling the product are liable. It’s not the job of the injured party to determine where the defect was introduced.  

When more than one person is at fault

In many states, all negligent parties involved in an accident are considered entirely responsible. The injured party can then decide from whom to collect damages. If more than one person is at fault, it can increase the chances of the injured party to receive full damages. 

Initially, the injured party considers everyone that might be responsible and notifies each one that a claim for damages may be filed. Pursuing a claim against one particular party will depend on factors such as what is discovered about how the accident happened or which insurance company takes responsibility. 

What happens if you were partially to blame

In some accidents, both parties are to blame and your carelessness is compared with that of the other party. The rule of comparative negligence applies and your percentage of liability determines the percentage of the resulting damages you receive. 

Imagine that you slammed on brakes suddenly because a child looked as though he was about to run into the street and the driver of a car behind you went into the back of your car. 

The other driver’s insurance company points out that you were not going slowly enough in a school area if you had to slam on brakes. Your negligence may have contributed 10% towards the accident and therefore, you are entitled to 10% less than full compensation. 

Different ways states apply comparative negligence

In some states, you are compensated for your injuries in the amount based on the negligence of the other person, despite how much you are to blame. Even if you are 90% responsible, you are still allowed to claim. 

Most states apply a more restrictive rule whereby you can’t recover anything if you were 50% or more responsible for an accident. 

A few states don’t allow you to receive any compensation if your carelessness contributed in any way to the accident. This applies even if you were only 1% responsible. 

While proving fault is sometimes quite simple, at other times, it involves complex legal analysis, and in such cases, hiring an attorney to serve your needs can make full compensation a reality.