What Happens When Both Drivers Are at Fault
Car Accident Lawyer
Lawsuits for traffic accidents and other injuries are, at their heart, about assigning fault to one of the parties. The court’s goal is to examine the evidence and determine whether it was the defendant’s fault that the plaintiff was injured. Some accidents are simple enough for this to be an obvious case. If one party is obeying all the rules of the road and the accident happens when the other car runs a red light, then fault is easy enough to assign.
However, this way of looking at things often oversimplifies the events of the accident. Sometimes the accident was caused by both drivers’ carelessness. That used to give rise to an affirmative defense known as “contributory negligence.” Affirmative defenses are arguments the defendant is allowed to make that acknowledge that the facts the plaintiff alleges are true, but that there are other facts that change the legal landscape. For instance, some states still have the contributory negligence defense, which means that if the victim was at all negligent, then they could no longer recover for their injuries.
Understanding Comparative Negligence
Comparative negligence, also referred to as comparative fault, differs from contributory negligence in that a careless plaintiff can still recover something for their injuries. Rather than having the plaintiff’s carelessness absolve the defendant of any wrongdoing, it merely reduces the amount that the defendant owes. Comparative negligence law instructs the jury to look at the actions of both the plaintiff and the defendant to determine how much of the accident either party was responsible for. Then the jury reduces the amount that the defendant has to pay by the percent of the accident that the plaintiff was responsible for.
An Example of How This Works
This legal doctrine is probably best understood through an example. Suppose two drivers, A and B, are coming to a stop sign. Driver A slows down but performs a “rolling stop” through the intersection. Meanwhile, driver B is going 25 miles over the speed limit. Driver B runs through the stop sign and collides with the side of driver A’s car. If driver A were to sue, the jury would have to compare the fault of the two drivers. Likely they would conclude that B’s speeding was the main cause of the accident, but A’s failure to stop contributed to the accident. Supposing they split the fault 90 percent and 10 percent; B would only be responsible for paying for 90 percent of A’s damages.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney for Assistance
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by another driver, contact an auto accident lawyer Washington, DC trusts to find out how they can help, even if you feel you may have contributed to the crash. Call to set up a free and confidential case evaluation with a car accident attorney tol discuss the details of your case and determine what legal recourse you may have.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their insight into car accident claims.