What is comparative negligence?
Comparative negligence is a legal doctrine that compares the fault of the parties involved in an accident to determine the amount of damages each party is responsible for. Under this doctrine, the amount of damages awarded to the injured party will be reduced by the percentage of fault they share in the accident.
For example, if the injured party is found to be 30% at fault for an accident, the damages awarded will be reduced by 30%. This doctrine is used in some states and its aim is to distribute the liability fairly among the parties involved. Pure comparative negligence is the law in Florida.
How does comparative negligence work in car accidents?
In car accident cases, comparative negligence works by comparing the fault of the parties involved in the accident to determine the amount of damages each party is responsible for. For example, if the driver of one car is found to be 50% at fault for an accident, and the driver of the other car is found to be 50% at fault, each driver would be responsible for 50% of the damages.
When it comes to determining fault in a car accident, the court will consider a variety of factors, such as the actions of the drivers, the condition of the vehicles and the road, and any other relevant circumstances. The court may also consider witness statements, accident reports, and other forms of evidence to determine the percentage of fault for each party. An accident reconstructionist can be useful in determining the fault of an accident.
It’s important to note that not all states use the doctrine of comparative negligence, some states use the doctrine of contributory negligence which means that if the injured person is found to be 51% at fault, they will not be able to recover any damages. It’s always a good idea to speak with a personal injury attorney to understand how comparative negligence works in your state and how it may affect your car accident case.
Examples of Comparative Negligence in Car Accidents
Comparative negligence is often applied in car accident cases where multiple parties may be found to be at fault. Some examples include:
- A driver runs a red light and collides with another vehicle. The court may find that the driver who ran the red light is 80% at fault, and the other driver is 20% at fault for not having brakes that were in proper working condition. If the driver that was 20% at fault was awarded $1,000.00 in damages, then their award would be reduced to $800.00.
- A driver is tailgating another vehicle and rear-ends them. The court may find that the driver who rear-ended the other vehicle is 70% at fault, and the other driver is 30% at fault for sudden braking. If the rear-ended driver was awarded $8,000.00 in damages, then their award would be reduced by 30% to $5,600.00.
- A driver is distracted by their phone and collides with a pedestrian crossing the street. The court may find that the driver is 85% at fault for distracted driving and the pedestrian is 15% at fault for crossing the street outside of the designated crosswalk. If the pedestrian was awarded $50,000.00, then the award would be reduced by 15% to $42,000.00.
These are just a few examples of how comparative negligence can be applied in car accident cases, and the percentage of fault assigned can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case.
What are some common comparative negligence issues?
Some common comparative negligence issues include determining the percentage of fault for each party, proving negligence and liability, and dealing with insurance companies and their adjusters.
Determining the percentage of fault can be a complex and difficult task, as it requires a thorough examination of the evidence and testimony presented in the case. Proving negligence and liability can also be challenging, as it requires evidence such as witness statements and accident reports.
Insurance companies and their adjusters may also contest the percentage of fault assigned to their policyholder, leading to disputes and potential delays in the resolution of the case. Additionally, some insurers may try to minimize the settlement offer and push to blame the accident on the victim.
It’s important to note that these issues can be complicated, an experienced lawyer can help you understand how comparative negligence works in your state, and how to handle these issues in the best possible way.
Can there be comparative negligence in an accident with multiple cars?
Yes, there can be comparative negligence in an accident involving multiple cars. Under the doctrine of comparative negligence, the court will compare the fault of all parties involved in the accident to determine the amount of damages each party is responsible for. In the case of a multi-car accident, the court will consider the actions of all drivers involved and assign a percentage of fault to each driver based on their level of responsibility for the accident.
What evidence is used to determine car accident comparative negligence?
When determining comparative negligence in a car accident, various types of evidence are used to determine the fault of each party involved. This evidence may include:
- Police reports: The police report will provide a detailed account of the accident, including the cause and contributing factors.
- Witness statements: Witnesses who saw the accident occur can provide valuable testimony about what happened and who is at fault.
- Photographic evidence: Photos of the accident scene, damage to the vehicles, and any skid marks or debris can help to determine the cause of the accident.
- Expert testimony: Accident reconstruction experts can use scientific methods to analyze the accident and provide an opinion on the cause and fault.
- Electronic data: Electronic data from the vehicle, such as airbag deployment, engine control module data, and GPS data can also be used to determine the cause of the accident.
It’s important to note that this evidence may vary depending on the accident and the jurisdiction, it’s always a good idea to speak with a personal injury attorney to understand the specific types of evidence that may be used in your case and how they may be used to determine comparative negligence.
If you would like to speak to one of the expert car accident lawyers at KMW, call us today.