Both parties may share fault in a car wreck. In these situations, the laws of the state in which the traffic accident occurred determine how insurance adjusters assign liability. In some states, neither party in a shared-fault accident qualify to pursue compensation from the other motorist and their insurer. In other states, both parties can pursue compensation from the other, or can only seek recovery if a party’s fault does not exceed a certain level.
Having an auto accident attorney may help to evaluate your case and let you know how to proceed in a shared-fault accident. You may qualify to recover compensation either from the other driver’s insurance company, your own, or both.
Types of Shared-Fault Car Accidents
When people think of car crashes, they often envision a scenario in which one driver clearly causes the wreck, making the other motorist an innocent victim. This accurately describes many traffic collisions, such as a driver running a red light and striking a vehicle that had the right of way. In that scenario, obviously, the red-light-runner bears fault.
However, not all vehicle accidents occur in such a straightforward manner. Some collisions occur because more than one driver was engaged in negligent or reckless behavior. For example, if a driver is tailgating another motorist, and the front driver slams on their brakes, a rear-end collision may occur. After examining the scene and talking to both drivers as well as witnesses, the investigating officers may determine that both drivers acted inappropriately, the front driver by aggressively hitting their brakes, and the back driver by following too closely.
In this situation, insurance adjusters may find both parties at fault for the car accident. How the case proceeds from a liability standpoint depends on the state.
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Many states, including Florida, follow a comparative liability law for shared-fault car accidents. In comparative liability states, drivers get assigned a certain share, or percentage, of the blame. They can then pursue the other driver or drivers based on their level of fault.
Returning to the rear-end collision scenario described above, suppose the front driver was assigned 40% of the blame, and the driver in the back assumed 60%. The driver in the rear may qualify to pursue up to 40% of their total losses from the front driver, while the front driver could go after 60% of their costs from the other party.
If the front motorist’s total repair costs added up to $10,000, they may receive as much as $6,000 from the other driver or the other driver’s insurer.
Other states follow a contributory negligence system, in which any share of blame in a collision, even 1%, disqualifies a driver from pursuing compensation from another party.
Consider a situation in which a driver rear-ends another vehicle because they were distracted. At first glance, you may think this driver retains sole responsibility. However, if the police determine that the car that got hit did not have working taillights or brake lights, they may assign that driver 10% of the blame for unsafe equipment.
In this scenario, even though the driver in the back bears 90% of the fault, the front driver, because police or investigators determined that they contributed to the collision, loses eligibility to seek compensation from the motorist who rear-ended them.
Modified Comparative Negligence
A modified comparative negligence system features aspects of both comparative and contributory liability. A partially at-fault driver may pursue compensation from the other driver or drivers, but only if their own share of the blame does not exceed a certain level, usually 50% to 51%. A driver assigned a higher percentage of fault loses all eligibility for seeking compensation from another party.
A car accident attorney can explain the laws of your state and provide a legal strategy for how to proceed when it is determined that both parties are at fault for the car accident.
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Contact a Car Accident Lawyer at Ben Crump Law, PLLC Today
Depending on where your accident occurred, you may only have a limited time to act. If you fail to seek a civil action within this timeframe, you may forfeit the right to recover compensation.
If you have experienced a car wreck, regardless of who holds full or partial responsibility, Ben Crump Law, PLLC may help you understand your legal options. You may qualify for substantial compensation. Having professional representation may relieve you of the stressful legal process following a wreck, and it may allow you to focus on healing from your auto accident injuries while still pursuing justice.
We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we do not get paid unless we are able to successfully recover compensation for you. For a free consultation, call us today at 800-598-7557.