Q. What is Comparative Fault in an Accident Case?
A. In order for you to pursue a liability claim against someone else for your injuries, the cause of your injuries must have been predominately caused by their conduct, and not your own. For instance, if you were severely injured in an auto collision, and your driving merely contributed in some small way (e.g., you were traveling 60 mph in a 55 mph speed zone), you will not likely be foreclosed from pursuing your injury claim against the other at-fault driver.
However, the percentage of your own fault (called “comparative fault”) will reduce your compensation by the same percentage of fault you contributed to causing the auto collision. So, if you are found by a jury to have been 20% at fault in causing the auto collision, your compensation will be reduced by 20% of the total verdict.
How the Insurance Company will Use Comparative Fault
Insurance adjusters exaggerate the impact of your conduct—like going 5mph over the speed limit—as a basis to substantially reduce the value of your injury claim. The same result occurs in construction injury or coal mine injury cases, where the adjuster exaggerates the impact of the employee’s conduct to show that the injuries would not have occurred if the employee had followed safe work practices.
When “Who was at Fault?” is an Issue, You Need a Strong Advocate on Your Side
While the law permits your own comparative fault to be as high as 49%, the closer your own fault gets to this maximum percentage, the less you will be compensated, and you run the risk that you will be completely foreclosed from recovering anything at all. If your fault equates to 50%, then you will be foreclosed from any recovery or compensation for your injuries. For instance, if a construction worker decides to remove his safety equipment in violation of safety rules, and is injured, it is likely that the worker’s conduct will be viewed as a significant contributing factor to his own injuries.
The law and jurors take a dim view of parties whose own conduct significantly contributes to their own injuries. Be aware that insurance adjusters try to craft reasons why your alleged negligent conduct equaled or exceeded that of their own insured, which has the end result of you receiving little to nothing in settlement of your injury claim, which is why it is essential you have a skilled personal injury attorney on your side fighting for you.
Morgantown WV Personal Injury Lawyers
The Robinette Legal Group is ready to stand up and fight for your rights to pursue full and fair money damages after a workplace injury or motor vehicle accident. You can try to file an insurance claim yourself, but there are some important things you will come to realize over time. The insurance company isn’t interested in protecting your rights and they will minimize the value of your injuries and your financial losses. That’s why having an experienced trial attorney from our firm is so important. We have years of experience handling personal injury cases, as both defense lawyers and on behalf of injury victims.
Jeff Robinette at the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC is glad to answer questions about work injury and auto accident claims. Call today: 304-594-1800.