When we get into an accident, our first reaction is to figure out who was at fault. As attorneys, we use this information to determine the parameters of a claim and decide who will be paying who and for how much. Insurance companies hold fault to a high standard as well—an insurance claim will not hold any grounds if an attorney can not prove negligence or fault.
But what happens if that fault is shared? You may have experienced an accident with multiple cars—such as a pile up or chain reaction crash—or you yourself may be at fault for part of the accident. In both of these cases, the blame is shared among two or more people and the law can get a bit more complicated.
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, including here in Indiana, 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 are involved in an accident in Indiana and may be partially at fault, you will need an experienced attorney on your side to help you prove comparative negligence and get you the compensation you need for your injuries, damages and lost wages. The attorneys at Stewart & Stewart have extensive knowledge on comparative negligence, specifically here in Indiana, and will help you get the compensation you deserve. For more information, give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website today.