Determining Liability and Fault After an Accident

Most drivers will experience a car accident at some point in their life. If they are lucky, then the accident is minor, with no physical injuries and minimum property damage. However, if you are involved in a severe collision, requiring medical attention, then you will likely suffer financial difficulty as well. When an accident is serious, resulting in harm, it is natural to wonder who is at fault. Personal feelings aside, your insurer will likely help determine liability based on your state’s legal definition of negligence. The majority of states use one of three negligence types: (1) contributory negligence, (2) comparative negligence and (3) modified comparative negligence.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence or pure negligence is stricter than other negligence laws. If you live in a state where this definition of negligence is upheld, then you are not entitled to financial compensation if you share any percentage of the blame. For example, if you fail to wear a seat belt, then you may be found partially liable for damages, even though not wearing a seatbelt did not contribute to the accident.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is slightly fairer than contributory negligence because it states that you are only proportionally responsible for financial losses and injuries. In other words, you can seek damages for the percentage of the accident that you are not responsible for. For example, if you are rear-ended after suddenly braking or changing lanes, then you might be found partially responsible for the accident. If you are found to be 30% responsible for the accident, then you can seek damages of up to 70%.

Modified Comparative Negligence

Some states take comparative negligence to another level by protecting the other driver’s insurance. In these states, there are specific liability cutoffs. For example, some jurisdictions have decided if a driver is found to be 50% responsible for the accident, then they cannot seek restitution for the other 50% from the other driver’s insurance. Depending on where you live, the limits may be different, so always check with a local authority on negligence definitions.

Unfortunately, automobile accidents are common, and while not every collision results in significant injury, it is necessary to understand your legal rights for seeking restitution. Severe crashes can result in substantial injuries and financial hardships, so understanding how your state defines negligence is vital to understanding compensation rules and limitations. If you have more questions regarding negligence and the legal process for seeking restitution, then contact a personal injury attorney in Abingdon, VA.



Thanks to The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt for their insight into personal injury claims and determining liability.