When it comes to determining fault in a personal injury claim, many claimants wrongly believe that it is a simple matter of one liable party and one victim. However, every accident is unique, and very few personal injury claims are simple. If you were partially at fault for the accident that caused your injury, can you still seek compensation?
The answer to that question is: It depends on your level of fault. An experienced personal injury attorney from Morris Bart LLC can help you understand the impacts of fault on a personal injury claim and how it can affect your case.
What Is Modified Contributory Negligence?
The majority of states in the nation, including Arkansas, use some form of modified contributory negligence when determining the impact of fault on a personal injury claim. Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute explains that under a pure contributory negligence rule, claimants are barred from seeking compensation if they had any fault in the accident. However, with the modified approach, some states allow a personal injury claim to be filed as long as the claimant was less than 50% responsible.
Arkansas follows the 50% rule, meaning that the claimant must be under 50% responsible to seek compensation.
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Which States Use Pure Contributory Negligence?
Alabama is one of only four states that uses a contributory negligence rule for personal injury claims., Theirs is pure, meaning that if you had any percentage of fault for the accident, you are barred from filing a claim.
It should be noted that Alabama does provide limited exceptions to contributory negligence in the following circumstances:
- The plaintiff is under the age of 14
- The plaintiff lacks the mental capacity to contribute to negligence
What Other Types of Fault Rules do States Use?
Instead of determining fault through contributory negligence, many states instead use a comparative fault rule, including Mississippi and Louisiana. As noted by Investopedia, comparative negligence apportions percentages of liability to each party in accordance with how their actions factored into the crash. The award given to the claimant is reduced by the percentage of responsibility they bear.
Pure comparative negligence allows a claimant to seek compensation from other at-fault parties for their injuries even if they were 99 percent responsible for the accident.
How does Modified Contributory Negligence Impact Your Claim?
The impacts of the type of fault system a state uses depend on the unique facts of the case. Here is a look at some of the positive and negative impacts that can be experienced as a result of contributory negligence rules.
The positive impact of pure contributory negligence is that it prevents defendants in personal injury claims from being able to counter-sue in order to seek compensation for an accident where they bear most of the responsibility. As mentioned, the comparative negligence rules allow a claim to be filed against anyone who had any fault in the accident, even if the fault they had was minuscule.
Another positive impact is that the amount of the award is not reduced by the percentage of responsibility the claimant bears, as it would be in states with a comparative negligence rule.
The negative impact of a pure contributory negligence standard is that it deprives many people from seeking compensation that they would have likely been awarded if they lived in a state that follows a comparative negligence rule. Contributory negligence often plays into the hands of the insurance company who is trying to avoid a large payout caused by the liability of their insured, and all they have to do to make the claim go away is find the slightest bit of liability for the accident on the part of the claimant.
If You Were Partially Responsible for the Accident, Should You Even Bother Speaking with an Attorney?
Yes! Often individuals who have been injured in an accident believe that they were partially at fault, even if they weren’t. Additionally, in most states that follow modified contributory negligence, as long as the responsibility for the accident wasn’t more than half yours, you can still seek compensation for your injuries.
It is important to be honest with your attorney about how the accident occurred, giving them the best opportunity to counter any attempts by the defendant’s insurance company to diminish your claim with the contributory negligence defense.
How Liability Is Proven in a Personal Injury Claim
Whether it regards your own liability or that of the defendant, liability in a personal injury claim is proven by showing the following elements:
- The at-fault party owed a duty of care for the safety and property of others in a given set of circumstances.
- The duty was breached when the at-fault party took actions that were contrary to the care that was owed.
- The breach resulted in an injury accident.
How a Lawyer Can Help You Counter Issues of Fault
While a modified contributory negligence rule can be complicated, an experienced personal injury attorney in your state will be well aware of the impact that fault can have on your claim and how to mitigate that impact. Your attorney can gather and present evidence that shows the majority of fault was with the defendant.
Additionally, your attorney can counter issues of fault resulting from to modified contributory negligence rule by valuing your claim highly enough so that even if your award is reduced for your percentage of fault, there will still be enough money to compensate for your injuries.
Contact Morris Bart for Help Today
For more information on the impacts of modified contributory negligence on your claim, or to learn more about the process of seeking compensation after an injury, contact Morris Bart LLC for a free case evaluation.
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