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Recovering Damages If I am Partially at Fault in an Auto Accident

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Photo: Edmunds.com

Numerous automobile accidents happen every day, and it is possible for multiple people to be at fault.  Fortunately, if you were partially at fault in a car accident, you can potentially recover damages—depending on your state’s negligence laws.

Pure Comparative Fault

In states that recognize the “pure comparative fault” rule, injured parties to an auto accident may recover damages even if they were 99% at fault. Under this rule, drivers’ recoverable damages are proportionally reduced by the percentage they are at fault. So, if you were 70% at fault in a crash and suffered $100 thousand in damages, you could still recover $30 thousand from the other driver. Approximately 1/3 of states have adopted pure comparative fault—including California.

Modified Comparative Fault

Most states that follow “modified comparative fault” allow drivers to recover only if they are 50% or less at fault in the accident. Other states following this rule set the threshold at 49%, rather than 50%. “Modified” comparative fault works the same way as its “pure” counterpart—damages are proportionally reduced by the driver’s negligence. The key difference is, under modified comparative fault, drivers that are 51% (or 50%) at fault for the accident are prohibited from recovering entirely. Most states follow this approach.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence is the least forgiving of the negligence rules. Under this standard, if a driver is even 1% at fault in an accident, they are prevented from recovering entirely. Although comparative fault is the modern trend, 5 states still follow contributory negligence.

If you were in an auto accident and you aren’t sure what you can recover—we can help. Call Kershaw, Cook & Talley for a free case evaluation today at 888-997-5170.

Click here for more information on negligence systems in US jurisdictions.

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