You may still have a case even if you were partially to blame for the accident. Every state has different laws in place regarding shared liability.
It is essential to understand which laws your state follows if you hope to gain insight into the value of your injury claim and the compensation you could win. If you live in a comparative negligence state or a modified comparative negligence state, you will likely still have grounds for a claim. However, those living in contributory negligence states may find their options limited. Our personal injury lawyer can explain which laws apply to your case.
How Shared Fault Systems Work
Every state has different rules and regulations in place for how instances of shared faults are handled. There are three primary types of contributory fault. These include:
- Pure comparative negligence
- Modified comparative negligence
- Pure contributory negligence
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Pure Comparative Negligence Laws
In states that follow pure comparative negligence laws, it does not matter whether you share blame for your injuries. You still have the right to compensation for your damages. However, you can expect your percentage of liability to reflect a shared fault deduction from your settlement.
An Example of Comparative Negligence
Let’s say Sally lives in California, which follows pure comparative negligence laws. When a distracted driver hit her, she was not wearing her seatbelt. For this reason, the judge determined Sally was 20% responsible for her injuries.
The jury awarded Sally $250,000 for her damages in the accident. However, since the judge deemed Sally was 20% liable, her $250,000 settlement had a 20% reduction. This left Sally with a final payout of $200,000 and a $50,000 loss.
Modified Comparative Negligence Laws
There are several states that follow modified comparative negligence laws. Here, those who share blame for their injuries can still see compensation for their damages as long as their percentage of fault does not cross the state threshold for liability.
Generally, this threshold will be somewhere between 49% and 51%, depending on the state. Once you exceed that liability threshold, the injury victim no longer has the right to pursue their claim in court.
An Example of Modified Comparative Negligence
Let’s say John lives in Massachusetts, which follows modified comparative negligence laws with a 51% threshold. John was involved in a car accident with a drunk driver. However, cell phone records indicate John might have been texting at the time of the accident.
For this reason, the judge finds John 40% responsible for causing his injuries. In this case, John would still have a chance to recover compensation for his damages but at a reduced rate. If the jury awarded John $300,000, his award would be subject to a 40% reduction of $120,000, which would leave him with a total settlement of $180,000.
However, if the judge found John was 55% responsible for causing the accident, he would not have the right to pursue his case at trial.
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Pure Contributory Negligence Laws
Few states in the U.S. practice pure contributory negligence laws. Here, anyone who shares blame for the accident cannot pursue compensation for their damages in court. There are only five states that follow pure contributory negligence laws, including:
- District of Columbia
- North Carolina
An Example of Contributory Negligence
Let’s say Mark lives in Virginia and was involved in a crash with a drowsy truck driver. However, upon review of the evidence, the judge found out Mark was not wearing his seatbelt when the commercial truck struck his vehicle.
Since Mark was not wearing his safety belt, the judge found him 5% responsible for causing his injuries. Because Virginia follows pure contributory negligence laws, Mark does not have the right to compensation for his damages.
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How To Protect Yourself Against Shared Fault Allegations
It is crucial to protect yourself against allegations of sharing fault. It is not unusual for defendants to accuse injury victims of sharing liability for their damages. In doing so, they could protect their financial interests and avoid having to compensate victims accordingly.
One way to protect yourself is by having your personal injury lawyer start working on your case from the start. That way, even if the liable party does blame you for the accident, your lawyer will be ready to refute their claims and prove the defendant’s liability.
Get in Touch With Our Personal Injury Team for Help Today
Whether you live in a state that follows comparative negligence or contributory negligence laws, when someone else is responsible for causing your injuries, you have the right to compensation for your losses. Even if the liable party accuses you of sharing the blame, your personal injury lawyer will be here to evaluate liability accurately.
We will never let you get taken advantage of during some of the most challenging times in your life. Reach out to our team today to get started with a free consultation.