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Sometimes, You May Be At Some Fault

In a simple, black and white world of cause and effect, when an accident occurs, one person is the victim, while the other person is responsible for the accident. This is the “ideal” legal situation that many personal injury lawyers will try to pursue if possible, since this is the simplest kind of case to resolve in court. In the event that one party is clearly responsible, while another is clearly a victim, the case can be settled quickly and efficiently with little room for argument.

However, in the real world this is not always the case. Sometimes when an accident happens, one party is not solely responsible for the incident. There are cases in which case even the party that has been injured has actually played a role in how the accident occurred.

So what happens when more than one party is responsible for an accident? Does that mean that no one can pursue the case?

The answer to that is “no.” But, it does mean that the courts must now resolve a case of what is called “comparative negligence.”

Proportions Of Blame

In comparative negligence cases, the goal of the court is not to lay blame on side or the other—it’s already been established that both parties play a role. The goal in such cases is to establish just how much blame one party may hold versus the other.

For example, if there is a car accident at an empty traffic intersection where one driver, stopped at the traffic light, is ignoring the green light in order to readjust a child’s seatbelt in the backseat, while another driver gets into a rear end collision due to distracted driving while texting, both drivers share some fault.

The goal of the lawyers involved in a case like this is to assign a certain percentage of blame. This percentage will determine just how much compensation will be required to the injured party. So, in the example above, if the person in the car with the child, was the injured party, there would be no fault on the driver’s part had the light been red and it was clear that observing normal traffic law was in effect.

In this case however, because the light was green, and the driver should have been moving, it is impossible for the injured party to get “full compensation” because there is a clear violation of traffic law. Had the driver been moving as legally required, the accident may not have occurred. On the other hand, the distracted driver who was texting and not paying attention to the road at all shares a major portion of the blame in such a case. However, the degree of blame the distracted driver will bear will be reduced, and so will the amount required for compensation, depending on how the court finally decides to assign blame.

Comparative negligence does not mean an injured party can’t get compensation. But it does mean an injured party is unlikely to receive the full amount of financial compensation due to the role that was played in the incident.