Can I Receive Compensation if I Was Partly at Fault for My Car Accident?

Car Accidents | June 30, 2019

Many collisions are not the sole fault of one party or the other. Car accidents possess different factors that contribute to the incident as a whole. As such, sometimes drivers share negligence in the moments leading up to a collision. Different states establish their own regulations when it comes to determining who is at fault in an accident. Each state operates under either a fault-based or no-fault system.

What Is a No-Fault System?

A no-fault system does not designate a fault rating to either driver except in the case of covering public property damage. In addressing lost wages, medical bills, and personal property damage, no-fault systems leave this up to your personal insurance carrier. No-fault states require all registered car owners to possess a minimum insurance coverage. This includes liability coverage that pays for damages you’ve incurred by causing an accident.

No-fault states often require drivers to purchase the minimum amount of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance as well. This is additive to your base insurance plan in case your damages exceed its basic coverage. Because of this protection, a majority of car accidents do not qualify associated drivers to seek additional compensation.

No-fault states differ in their specific laws surrounding when a driver can file a personal injury claim, but each state does possess a requirement that allows some drivers to press charges. Typically, this amounts to a driver sustaining a certain severity of damage or spending a certain amount of money on medical bills to qualify.

What Is a Fault-Based System?

Two types of fault-based systems operate in the U.S.: modified comparative fault and pure comparative fault. Both systems have one aspect in common, which is how the court assigns fault to each party. Fault-based systems don’t assign full blame to one party unless this ruling accurately reflects the accident. Commonly, each party involved in an accident receives a percentage-based rating that indicates their portion of the blame in causing the accident.

Modified comparative fault is almost comparable to a system that places full blame on one party. Even though both parties possess a certain degree of fault, only drivers rated 50% or less can pursue legal action against the other driver. The driver that possess the remainder of the fault-percentage has no opportunity to pursue compensation through a claim.

Pure comparative fault-based systems do not exercise the “51 percent bar” rule. Although each party receives a fault-rating, this rating does not impact any driver’s ability to seek compensation through personal injury lawsuit. The only caveat to this system involves the final compensation awarded in each case.

If your claim is successful, the court removes the proportionate amount of money equivalent to your percentage-based rating from your gross compensation. For example, a driver rated at 75% fault might secure a gross compensation of $10,000 for their claim. The net compensation that they will take home turns out to be $2,500, because the court re-claims 75% of the total figure.

Hiring a Lawyer

Whether you reside in a no-fault or fault-based state, consulting with a personal injury lawyer can give you insight into how successful your case might be if you press charges. Outside of building your case, a skilled car accident attorney also knows how to negotiate settlements. This increases your chances of taking home a settlement that fairly acknowledges all damages you’ve sustained from an accident.

Whether you can receive compensation after a car accident depends on which state you live in. It also depends how much fault you contributed to an accident. Check your state-specific laws and contact an attorney to learn more about your opportunities to seek compensation following a car accident.