Personal injury lawsuit takes place when a person who was injured in an accident files a lawsuit against the person or business responsible for causing the accident. For instance, if a driver runs into another car and the accident is deemed to be totally their fault, they may be held liable for the damages incurred by another driver. Likewise, if a business fails to properly maintain their sidewalk during the winter and someone slips and falls on the ice outside, the person could sue them to recover money for any related medical expenses.
In some cases, however, assigning blame for the accident is not so cut and dry. Oftentimes, both parties contribute to the accident in some way. For instance, perhaps one driver ran a red light while the other driver pulled out into traffic too soon. In these cases, a legal rule known as comparative negligence comes into play.
With comparative negligence, a judge or jury decides how much at fault each party was. In the above example, for instance, they may determine that the driver who ran the red light was approximately 70% at fault while the driver who pulled out too soon was only 30% at fault.
These percentages determine how much money each party can recover from the other in personal injury lawsuit. For example, imagine that the driver who was 30% at fault incurred $50,000 in damages as a result of the accident. They could only recover 70% of those damages, which comes out to $35,000, from the other driver. The other driver, on the other hand, could only recover 30% of the damages they incurred since they themselves were found to be 70% at fault.
Some states have restrictions on how much at fault a person can be in order to recover money from the other party. In most cases, the cutoff point falls at 50%. That means that if a person was more than 50% responsible for an accident, they can’t recover any money from the other party. This is known as modified comparative negligence.
Other states take it even further, preventing people from recovering any money if they are found to have contributed to the accident in any way. This is known as contributory negligence. In states that use this system, even if a person is only 1% responsible for the accident, they can’t recover any money from the other party. There are only a few states that still use this restrictive rule.
A personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether or not you are eligible for compensation under the rules in your state. Ideally, your lawyer will be able to help you mount a successful personal injury lawsuit against the other party so that you can recover at least a portion of any damages that you incurred.
Understanding comparative negligence in personal injury lawsuit is a little bit tricky. There are so many different factors that come into play that it can get a bit confusing. Our lawyers are able to answer any questions you may have regarding the amount of compensation you are eligible to receive.