Accidents can happen out of nowhere. Often, we picture accidents occurring due to the negligence of another driver. But what happens if we get into an accident and it was our fault?
If the entire accident is deemed to be your fault, you will not be able to collect any money for injuries or damage that occurred to you or your property. But, it is usually unlikely for many accidents to be deemed entirely one parties fault. If you are able to prove that you were only partly at fault, you could be entitled to compensation. An experienced attorney will be able to take information from the scene and determine who was at fault for an accident.
Once you prove that both parties were at fault, it must then be determined at what percentage each party was at fault. If you were making an illegal right turn on a red light and a car going straight hit you, but they were distracted by texting and driving, you could prove that it was not just your fault for the accident. The result may be that you are 60% to blame, while the other driver is 40% to blame. If this happens, your compensation would be 40% of the total amount awarded, while the other party will get 60%.
Often, these types of cases are difficult to determine and will result in a jury trial or court case. During a trial, it’s up to the jury to decide what your percentage of fault is in any given case and it’s the attorney’s job to make sure that they reach that accurately.
The most important thing to remember after an accident is to never admit fault. Sometimes, the other victim’s insurance company will call you and tell you that you’re at fault, hoping they will get an admission out of you. If you agree with them or say anything to help them prove you were entirely at fault, you could hurt your case. If an insurance company calls and tells you that you are 100% at fault, take this with extreme caution and contact an attorney as soon as possible. Often, just because they say this, does not mean it is true and does not mean that you do not have a case.
If you are involved in an accident and partially to blame, the first step is determining which legal ground your claim falls on: contributory negligence or comparative negligence.
Contributory Negligence: This is the law that states that if you had any fault in an accident, even if that fault was minor, you are not eligible to receive any compensation. This law is tough and often puts victims in a difficult position as they are unable to receive payment for medical bills, even if only 1 percent of the fault was proven to be theirs. Most states have let go of this law and instead opted for comparative negligence.
Comparative Negligence: This law looks at each person at fault and assess what percentage each party is at fault for. Whatever percentage is determined is the amount each party will have to the other party for injuries or lost wages. For example, if you were 40 percent at fault for an accident and suffered extensive injuries, the other party will only have to pay 60 percent of the costs to you. If they also suffered injuries, they will only receive 40 percent of the cost.
Modified Comparative Fault: Some states follow the modified comparative fault law. This states that as long as the injured party was responsible for less than 50 percent of the accident, they can collect compensation (for the percentage determined) from the others involved in the accident. If you are proven to be more than 50 percent at fault, you are not eligible to receive any payments from the other party.
To determine who is legally liable for an accident, or at what percentage each party is liable for, an experienced accident attorney must be able to prove carelessness. They may be able to prove that the injured person, while careless, was not fully at fault and still requires compensation, but they can also prove that the manufacturer of the car is partially at fault or that the location of the accident was at fault due to a dangerous area or maintenance issue on the grounds.
If you were involved in an accident and told you were entirely at fault or know that the fault was shared, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced accident attorney. The attorneys at Balkan and Patterson know what it takes to prove fault and ensure our clients get the compensation they deserve. For more information about how we can help you, contact us today at 561-750-9191 or visit our website.