In this article I want to discuss what you should do if your injuries are caused by an accident that may be partially your fault. When someone gets hurt badly in an accident that might be partly their fault, a lot of people might be wondering if they even have a claim at all.
Across the country there are basically two different systems, depending on what state you are in, that determine how these cases play out. There are a few states that are known as contributory liability states. What that means in its most pure form is that if you are at fault in any way for the accident, even if it’s just a little bit, you get no recovery. There is no compensation available. That is what is known as contributory liability. However, in most states, California fortunately being one of them, there is a different system. These are known as comparative liability states. In a comparative liability system, even if you are at fault for the accident, if someone else is at fault in any way for the accident, they have to pay a proportionate share of your damages.
Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you are walking across the street. The speed limit on the street is 25 miles per hour. There’s not a lot of traffic, but for whatever reason, you are not using the crosswalk. Let’s say it’s because your car is directly across the street, and the crosswalk is 50 yards out of the way. So you’re walking across the street, and a car comes racing down the street at 90 miles per hour, tires squealing, and that car hits you. You suffer serious injuries.
In a contributory negligence state, unfortunately, you may not recover anything, but in California and other comparative negligence states, you would be able to recover compensation. How it works is that your degree of liability is compared with that speeding driver’s level of liability, and it is broken down by percentages. So someone might look at that situation and judge that it’s 50-50 liability, or 10-90, or some other division or break down. Ultimately, when it’s all said and done the liability breakdown is whatever the jury would decide it is. In a comparable liability system, whatever damages you would be entitled to if the other party was 100% at fault, you would get a percentage of that depending on how much you yourself were at fault.
Let’s look at another example, a rear end collision. In this one let’s imagine that you’re driving along the road one night and your brake lights are out. Maybe you knew about it, maybe you didn’t, but your brake lights are definitely not working. You come to a full stop and are sitting at a stop light. Then a couple seconds later . . . WHAM! – someone hits you from behind. Let’s imagine that you suffered serious injuries in that accident.
In this instance you would be partially at fault because you shouldn’t be driving around with no brake lights. It’s dangerous. Now let’s also throw in the fact that maybe the person that hit you was on their cell phone, or maybe they were drunk, or even just looking over at their passenger and talking. Either way, they would not have hit you if they would have been looking forward like any driver is supposed to do. Here in this example the other driver is at fault due to the fact they were not paying attention to the road ahead, and you are also at fault because you failed to maintain your brake lights, making it hard for other people to see that you stopped. Now in those few states out there that still have that contributory liability system, you are not going to be able to recover anything. However, in California and most other states, fortunately there is the comparative liability system, so you would still be able to recover compensation according to the percentage that the other driver is at fault.
The reason I wanted to put this article out there is so that people don’t just give up on their injury claims just because they are partially at fault. If you have suffered a serious injury, and you have a legitimate reason to believe that another person is at fault, you can still recover compensation even if you are also partly at fault.
I hope you found this information helpful. For more information feel free to browse other articles in our article library. In addition to these resources, we have also published a free Ebook titled, 5 Things You Must Do After a Car Crash. Feel free to download it any time.