Can I Still Pursue Compensation If I Was Partially at Fault for My Injuries?

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If you were in an accident and sustained injuries, you may be confused as to how it is determined who was at fault for it. You may also be upset because you have been found to be partially at fault for your injuries and now you may be unsure as to whether you can still pursue compensation to cover the expenses incurred when recovering your health. Before understanding what comes next, your first step needs to be to talk to a personal injury law firm in Augusta about your case to understand your legal options moving forward.

Difference Between Contributory Negligence and Comparative Negligence

There are two ways in which a court may assign liability in a personal injury claim: contributory negligence and comparative negligence.

Contributory Negligence

Under this standard, if you were even marginally at fault for the accident, you will not be eligible to recover anything even if the other party was clearly more at fault. This doctrine can make it very hard for plaintiffs to receive compensation.

Comparative Negligence

This standard allows for an evaluation of how much each party contributed to the accident and to their own injuries. It allows for parties to recover the portion of damages they were not at fault for.

How Are These Standards Applied in Real Life?

Let us assume that a pedestrian was carelessly looking at their phone while crossing a busy street and got run over by a car. The pedestrian is injured and files a claim against the driver of the car. If the case goes to trial and the judge determines that it is worth 1 million dollars, the funds could be distributed this way:

  • If it is determined that the defendant (the car driver) caused 100% of the injuries and the pedestrian (plaintiff) was not at fault, the plaintiff may receive the full amount.
  • If the contributory standard is applied, should the plaintiff be found to be liable for even 1% of the accident, they would not be allowed to receive anything.
  • If the comparative standard is applied, if it is determined that the plaintiff contributed to their injury, providing they contributed less than the defendant, they would be able to recover the percentage of the injury attributed to the defendant. This means that if the defendant was found to be 10% at fault, they would still be able to recover $900,000. If it is decided that each party was responsible for 50% of the accident, neither party would likely receive anything.

Is There Anything You Can Do to Help Your Case?

You can take some steps to improve your odds of recovering compensation in an accident in which you might be found to be partially at fault. Start by seeking medical attention as soon as possible after the accident, even if there are no obvious injuries. Keep a detailed file of all of your treatments and expenses.

At the accident scene, take pictures of the cars and their damage as well as of your injuries. If there are any witnesses around, get their testimonies and collect their personal information should you need to contact them in the future. Exchange information with the pedestrian or the other driver including their insurance policy and all information regarding the car.

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