You might think that car accidents are very black and white situations, where one person takes the blame for it and the other person gets to make a claim with their insurance. More often than not, however, both drivers can be found partially guilty of causing the crash. If this is the case, what happens to each person’s claim? The answer usually lies in what state you live in. Here’s a breakdown of how different laws impact negligence for car accident claims.
Pure Contributory Negligence
A few states have a law called pure contributory negligence. If you live in one of these states and are partially at fault for an accident, then you may be out of luck for getting compensation from the other person’s insurance. It doesn’t matter if the other person was 90% responsible for causing the accident. Since you contributed to it, even minorly, then you can’t collect damages from the other driver.
To deal with partial fault in a fairer way, states with comparative negligence split the fault between the two drivers relative to the extent that they contributed to the crash. For example, if someone was only 40% responsible for causing the crash, then they can only obtain 60% of their requested damages. If you live in a state with comparative negligence, you must be able to prove your percentage of innocence, and the other driver may not come up with the same number.
Modified Comparative Negligence
In modified comparative negligence states, you are allowed up to a certain percentage of fault in an accident where you can still make a claim. However, if you are found guilty of a higher percentage, you can’t get compensation. Most states cap this off at 50%, so those who are more than 50% responsible for the accident can’t claim damages.
Other states abide by no-fault laws, which means that no one can make a claim with anyone else’s insurance. Instead, your car insurance provides compensation for your injury costs and damages. The main purpose of no-fault laws is to prevent lawsuits, though there can be exceptions to this.
When You’re at Partial Fault
The lawyers at Cohen & Cohen can explain that while you may think you are at partial fault for an accident, you should never admit it to the police or the other driver. Sometimes you may not realize that you aren’t at fault at all, and other witnesses and evidence can prove this. If you admit fault too early, you’re guaranteeing that you won’t get to make a rightful claim for compensation.