Though there are many accidents that are straightforward in who caused the incident, there are just as many situations that fall under a gray area. Accidents are messy – sometimes both parties are at fault in creating the conditions that caused it. Some drivers might worry that their potential involvement in an accident diminishes their ability to receive compensation to cover costs associated with their injuries. In some states, this does apply to drivers that share fault. However, this strict doctrine is only practiced by four states – the rest utilize some form of comparative fault law to determine whether a driver can receive compensation.
Comparative fault dictates that all parties must assume responsibility for their roles in causing an accident. Within the relevant context, either law enforcement, insurance companies, or the court decides how much fault each party possesses. This is designated through a percentage rating that assigns each party a certain proportion of the blame based on the details of the accident.
Comparative fault comes in two forms: modified comparative fault and pure comparative fault. Modified comparative fault designates a clear plaintiff and defendant party in an accident. That is, only parties with less than half of the fault are qualified to recover compensation for their accident-related damages.
This is not the case with pure comparative fault, which is practiced in states like Tennessee. Pure comparative fault does not limit either party in their ability to file a personal injury claim. However, the compensation that a driver recovers is reduced by the driver’s percentage of fault in an accident. For example, a driver that is responsible for 10% of an accident that is awarded $1,000 can only take home $900.
How Can a Lawyer Help?
In a situation where your fault percentage could dictate how much compensation you take home, a lawyer is invaluable. Upon hire, a lawyer will launch their investigation into your case. Investigation includes services like:
- Reviewing available traffic video from the accident
- Requesting driver call logs to determine if the other party was driving while distracted
- Reviewing police reports
- Contacting and interviewing witnesses
- Visiting the accident scene
- Consulting expert witnesses
- Reviewing your own evidence and account of the accident
- Employing a team to reconstruct the accident
All resources at a lawyer’s disposal are yours when you hire them on to your case. This is valuable in that strong cases ensure that your own fault rating is as fair as possible. Allowing the other driver to simply blame the accident on you without providing any sort of contradictory evidence is ultimately just accepting a high fault rating without a fight.
Attorneys do not only investigate your case – after they help you build your case, they can also help you negotiate your settlement. Whether chasing compensation through your insurance company or a personal injury claim, an attorney can help you negotiate with the other driver’s claims adjustors to fight for the fairest compensation. Though fault ratings still impact settlement negotiation, settling out of court prevents it from having an excessive impact on your case.
Negotiating with claims adjustors might be tricky, but it could provide more fruitful consequences than going straight to court. With a skilled attorney by their side, even at-fault drivers can recover fair compensation for their damages.
After an accident, some drivers wonder if their role in the incident could negatively impact their ability to recover for their damages. Oftentimes, playing a minor role in an accident doesn’t impact your ability to file a claim, and in pure comparative fault states, it doesn’t impact your potential to recover at all. If you have questions about your ability to file a claim, consult a personal injury attorney today.