One of the most common questions individuals who have been involved in an accident have is whether they should file a personal injury claim after the accident, despite being partially to blame for the cause of either the accident itself or their injuries. For example, if someone was involved in a car accident and wasn’t wearing their seatbelt, the courts might find that they have contributed to the injuries they sustained in the accident.
This type of shared fault is known as contributory negligence and each state has their own laws regarding how shared fault is handled in a civil claim. We reached out to Kooi Law in Indiana and discovered that Indiana practices modified comparative fault.
They explained this means injury victims can certainly file a claim and be awarded compensation for their damages, but only as long as they do not exceed 50 percent liability. Furthermore, any injury settlement they are awarded will be reduced by their portion of fault.
But, other states do not follow modified comparative fault. In fact, North Carolina practices pure contributory fault, which prohibits injury victims who share blame from being awarded compensation after an accident, even if they are minimally to blame.
Other states, such as California, follow pure comparative fault laws, which are almost identical to modified comparative negligence laws, except there is no limit to how much fault you can carry. If your negligence exceeds 50 percent, you are still entitled to repayment for your losses, but your award will still reflect this shared fault deduction. So, if you were 80 percent to blame for the accident, you would only be entitled to a maximum of 20 percent of whatever you were awarded.
With three different types of contributory negligence in the U.S., it’s difficult to say whether you should file a personal injury lawsuit if you are partially at fault for your accident. However, few states practice pure contributory fault laws, so chances are, you will have an opportunity to obtain an injury settlement if you don’t live in one of those states.
Your best option is to check and see what the contributory fault laws are in your state. If comparative negligence is practiced where you live, speak with an experienced legal professional to learn more about how you can move forward with a personal injury lawsuit.