What Does “Comparative Negligence” Mean When Determining Who Is Liable for a Traffic Accident?

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According to the NHTSA, approximately 8,000 people are injured in traffic accidents daily. This number shows how vulnerable drivers are and how often they are prone to injuries.

The most vulnerable type of driver is, of course, one who drives a motorcycle. These drivers are more likely to get into severe accidents due to negligence and recklessness. If you have been injured in a collision, contact motorcycle accident attorney Hipskind & McAninch, LLC.

Even if they wear protective gear, motorcyclists are more likely to suffer from severe injuries than other drivers. Injuries such as broken bones or organ damage are common, and this is where comparative negligence laws make a huge difference.

But what does comparative negligence mean when determining who is liable for a traffic accident?

Comparative-Negligence

What Is Comparative Negligence?

To determine which party is mainly responsible for a traffic accident, authorities consider various aspects. In the U.S., some states enforce the percentage principle of tort law. The state of Illinois is one of them. This means that for insurance companies to pay damages accurately, all parties involved will receive a percentage of fault based on their contribution to the accident.

Each case has various factors to consider, which is why you should consult with an attorney before going to court. Damages including medical bills lost wages, and property damage will be proportionally distributed based on the degree of negligence.

To properly determine who is responsible and how much you would have to pay or may receive, victims should have a case consultation from a lawyer.

Which Types of Comparative Negligence Apply to Me?

It is important to remember that there are three types of comparative negligence. There is pure comparative negligence, modified comparative negligence, and slight/gross comparative negligence.

Each state judges injury lawsuits according to one of these laws. Pure negligence law, for example, allows the plaintiff to recover losses even if they are 99% responsible for the accident. In that case, you can receive 1% of the losses. This law is active in thirteen states, including California and New York.

Modified comparative negligence is often used in states like Illinois and Oregon. In this system, if the plaintiff is more than 50% at fault for the accident, they are no longer eligible to receive compensation from the defendant or the insurance company.

In the case of a traffic accident, the insurance companies typically blame the other driver for negligence, so you should look for professional legal help.

Slight/Gross negligence is only used in the state of South Dakota. In this case, the percentages are replaced by slight or gross negligence. This means that the value of the settlement will be greater if the contribution to an accident is slight and vice versa.

Examples of Comparative Negligence 

In an ideal situation, the driver who caused the accident is to blame. Here, the victim will receive full compensation for all monetary losses. But few accidents are this simple. This is where comparative negligence plays a role.

Let’s say that Brian is a motorcycle driver, and John is a car driver. At an intersection, Brain did not stop at the red light and got hit by John, who was driving 40 miles over the speed limit. Brian sustained injuries of $25,000 and John $15,000.

After the court hearing, Brian received 51% at fault and Tom 49%. In that case, the modified comparative negligence only allows John to receive compensation for his damages. In other states like New York, according to pure comparative negligence, each will receive compensation according to their blame. This would leave John with $7,650 and Brian with $7,350.

Dealing With Traffic Accidents

Many legal aspects play a role in a traffic accident case. When calculating settlements, assigning fault in this type of lawsuit is crucial for insurance companies.

Each case is unique, and there can be exceptional circumstances in which neither driver is guilty due to poor infrastructure or weather conditions. In this context, it is better to look at precedents or notable exceptions.

Traffic Accidents

Traffic accidents are traumatic experiences. Their consequences include medical expenses, physical and mental suffering, and the inability to work. You should consult with a motorcycle accident lawyer regarding your claim. 

Legal consultation and professional research on the matter are the best solutions if you want to receive justice and proper compensation for your injuries. Insurance companies will try to shift as much of the blame on you to pay less. This is where a lawyer can make a difference.

How to choose a good lawyer?

The first step is finding a lawyer with experience in traffic accident cases. This will ensure that they know how to deal with the insurance company and get you the best possible settlement.

It is also important to find a lawyer that you feel comfortable with. This way, you can be sure that they have your best interests at heart.

Finally, you should make sure that the lawyer you choose offers a free consultation. This way, you can get an idea of their fees and what to expect from their services.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between pure and modified comparative negligence?

In pure comparative negligence, each party is still owed damages even if they are mostly at fault for the accident. In modified comparative negligence, a party must be less than 50% at fault to recover any damages.

What is the difference between contributory negligence and comparative negligence?

Contributory negligence is a legal doctrine that prevents a party from recovering damages if they are at fault for the accident. Comparative negligence allows a party to recover damages even if they are at fault, but their damages will be reduced by their percentage of fault.

Do I need a lawyer for a comparative negligence case?

It is not required that you have a lawyer for a comparative negligence case, but it is highly recommended. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal system and ensure that you receive the best possible outcome for your case.

What if I am found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident?

If you are found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident, you will not be able to recover any damages under the modified comparative negligence doctrine. You may still be able to recover damages under the pure comparative negligence doctrine, but your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

What if I am found to be less than 50% at fault for the accident?

If you are found to be less than 50% at fault for the accident, you may be able to recover damages under the comparative negligence doctrine. Your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

What if neither driver is at fault for the accident?

In this case, it is up to the court to determine who is liable for the accident. The court will consider factors such as the severity of the accident and the damages suffered by each party.

What if the other driver is uninsured or underinsured?

If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, you may still be able to recover damages through your own insurance policy. You should consult with your insurance company to see if you have this coverage.

Can I file a lawsuit if I am found to be at fault for the accident?

If you are found to be at fault for the accident, you may still be able to file a lawsuit. However, your chances of success will be limited and your damages will likely be reduced by your percentage of fault. You should consult with a lawyer to see if this is a viable option for your case.

What is the statute of limitations for filing a comparative negligence lawsuit?

The statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations for a comparative negligence lawsuit will depend on the state in which the accident occurred. You should consult with a lawyer to determine the applicable statute of limitations for your case.

Final Words

If you are involved in a traffic accident, it is important to consult with a lawyer to see if you can recover damages under the comparative negligence doctrine. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal system and ensure that you receive the best possible outcome for your case.

The above content is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice. You should always consult with a lawyer to determine if you can recover damages under the comparative negligence doctrine.

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