Car accidents are a part of life, occurring suddenly and without warning. While it may be easy to determine who was at fault in some cases, it may be more difficult in others where the facts may not be so cut and dried. The following is an overview of personal injury law and how it relates to those involved in car accidents who think they may share blame in the incident. If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, it is a good idea to speak with a personal injury attorney to go over all of the options available to you under the law.
What To Do If You Think You May Be Partially At Fault?
After a car accident, what you do and say is critical if your case should require the filing of a lawsuit. The most important thing to remember after an accident, is to avoid saying anything that can be used in court later on. While most people are emotional and upset after an accident, it important to never admit fault to the other driver or anyone at the scene. Even a simple “I’m sorry” can look like an admission of guilt at an accident scene. If you aren’t sure who was at fault in the accident, take pictures of the accident scene and of your injuries so you can show them to your lawyer at a later date if needed. If possible, obtain copies of the police report filed at the scene, as well.
It can be difficult to prove who was at fault after a car accident. In many cases, police make the determination and ticket offending drivers at the accident scene. If it is not clear who was at fault, it may be determined at a later time. If you intend to file a personal injury claim for your injuries sustained in the accident, you will be required to prove the other driver was reckless and caused your injuries. Some things that may point to driver negligence or recklessness include:
- Reckless Driving
- Driving While Intoxicated
- Driving While Distracted
- Failing To Yield The Right Of Way
Comparative And Contributory Negligence Law
When trying to obtain a settlement if you are found to be partially at fault in an accident, a great deal depends on the laws in the state in which the accident occurred. Some states have comparative negligence laws, which can affect the amount of the settlement you receive. These laws allow courts to assign a percentage of the blame to each driver they feel is partially responsible in the accident. This means that if you are found to be 20 percent responsible, your settlement will be reduced by that much if the other driver is 80 percent responsible. One third of the states in the U.S. follow this law including Florida, California and New York.
Some states follow pure contributory negligence laws. This means that if you live in one of these states, you cannot obtain any monetary settlement in a lawsuit if you are found to be even 1 percent at fault in the crash. Because these laws are strict, only 5 states participate including Maryland, Alabama, Virginia, North Carolina and the District Of Columbia.
Modified Comparative Negligence Laws
Certain states follow modified comparative negligence laws, which is divided into two different categories:
- The 50 Percent Bar Rule
Under the 50 percent bar rule, any party to a lawsuit after a car accident cannot obtain a settlement if they are found to be 50 percent at fault.
- The 51 Percent Bar Rule
Under this rule, car accident victims who are found to be 51 percent liable, cannot obtain a monetary settlement in a personal injury lawsuit.
How Can An Attorney Help You?
If you are considering filing a lawsuit for your injuries, it may benefit you to have an attorney working for you. An experienced personal injury attorney may help you by:
- Hiring Accident Investigators
- Talking To Medical Experts
- Obtaining Medical Records And Police Reports
- Speaking With The Insurance Company About A Settlement
- Filing Documents In Court
- Representing You At Trial
Contact a personal injury today to learn the options you have available to regarding your accident and injuries. Even if you feel you may be partially at fault, it is a good idea to seek the advice of someone who will work to protect your interests.