The law of comparative negligence allows you to recover damages from a negligent driver, even if your negligence contributed to the accident. However, proving that you were partially at fault can be challenging.
This guide will explain what you need to know about comparative negligence before you make your case in court.
Definition of Comparative Negligence
Car accidents are a common occurrence, but assigning fault isn’t always straightforward. For instance, a recent collision between two speeding cars in St. Louis resulted in one fatality and one critical injury, as reported by PKB News. The police have suggested that the accident could be attributed to the drivers’ morning drowsiness or difficulty controlling their vehicles.
Comparative negligence is a legal principle used in personal injury cases to determine the degree of fault of each party involved in an accident. Under this concept, both parties can be held responsible for the accident based on their degree of fault or negligence.
Comparative negligence laws vary by state, but they generally allow for the apportionment of damages based on the percentage of fault assigned to each party. For example, if a plaintiff is found to be 20% at fault for an accident, their damages would be reduced by 20%.
Comparative negligence recognizes that accidents are often caused by multiple factors and seeks to assign responsibility proportionally rather than placing the blame solely on one party.
Types of Comparative Negligence
According to Forbes Advisor, pure comparative and modified comparative negligence are the two types of comparative negligence.
Under pure comparative negligence, an individual can obtain compensation, even if the defendant bears a very small amount of responsibility for the harm caused. As an instance, if the defendant is found to be responsible for just 1% of the accident, the plaintiff may receive compensation for the 1% of their damages.
On the other hand, under modified comparative negligence, one can only recover damages if they were less than 50% at fault for the accident. If a plaintiff is found to be more than half at fault for the accident, they cannot recover any damages.
How Comparative Negligence Affects Your Case
Comparative negligence is a legal principle that can significantly impact the outcome of a personal injury case. The percentage of fault assigned to each party can directly affect the damages awarded.
In the example given, if the damages from the car accident were $100,000, the party found to be 20% at fault would be responsible for paying $20,000, while the other party would be responsible for paying $80,000.
It is important to note that comparative negligence laws can vary by state and can be complex.
Evidence Used to Determine Comparative Negligence
You should be aware that the evidence used to determine comparative negligence is not limited to your conduct. It also includes:
- Proof of the driver’s conduct
- Evidence of the victim’s conduct (including any medical records)
- The crash itself, including its severity and other factors related to it
- The other driver’s actions before and during the crash
Importance of Hiring a Skilled Attorney
A skilled attorney can help you gather evidence, build a strong case, and negotiate with the other party’s insurance company to ensure you receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to.
For example, in the case of the St. Louis car accident mentioned earlier, a St. Louis auto accident lawyer can also help a plaintiff understand the legal nuances of comparative negligence and determine the extent of their liability.
A personal injury law firm in St. Louis, TorHoerman Law, LLC (THL), states that in St. Louis, MO, car accidents can have various causes, including drunk driving, reckless or careless driving, auto defects, distracted driving, and rear-end crashes. The law firm adds that if you’re a car accident victim in St. Louis, a car accident attorney can assist you in navigating the complex legal system and representing your interests before the courts.
With a skilled attorney, you may avoid being assigned more fault than you deserve, which can result in a reduced amount of compensation. Therefore, hiring an experienced attorney who can help you achieve a fair and just outcome in your case is crucial.
Strategies for Proving Fault
According to Investopedia, the burden of proof is a legal criterion used to assess the validity of a legal claim based on the evidence presented. Usually, one party is required to meet the burden of proof in a claim, and often, the burden falls on the party initiating the claim.
In a comparative negligence case, in addition to presenting evidence to prove the other party was at fault, your attorney may also try to show that you were not at fault or that your degree of fault was minimal. They may use evidence such as witness testimony, medical records, and accident reports to support their case.
Another strategy could be to negotiate with the other party’s insurance company to reach a settlement agreement that takes into account the degree of fault of each party. A skilled attorney can help you build a strong case and increase your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in a comparative negligence case.
To prove comparative negligence, your attorney will need to present strong evidence that demonstrates the other party’s degree of fault in the accident. However, there may be challenges in gathering and presenting this evidence.
For example, if there were no eyewitnesses to the accident or if there is limited video footage, it can be difficult to prove fault. Additionally, the other party may argue that they were not at fault or that you were primarily responsible for the accident.
Your attorney can help you navigate these challenges by using various legal strategies and presenting compelling evidence to support your case. With the help of a skilled attorney, you can improve your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, it’s important to know how your state’s comparative negligence laws apply. In a nutshell, if you were partially at fault for the crash, then your compensation could be reduced based on how much of a role you played in causing it.
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