Auto Crash: Determining Who is at Fault

Published: 25th September 2008
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Road accidents happen most of the time. It may be prevented but as long as mistakes happen, which always do, accidents like a car collision or an auto crash cannot be totally wiped out.

Auto crashes usually result from one or more mistakes made by someone, either intentionally or unintentionally. Whether he/she is aware or unaware that he/she was at fault, still that person's negligence caused the crash and the one responsible for the damages.

There are some circumstances where an accident was caused by both parties and liability is not clear, there exists shared fault. To determine the responsibility of every party directly involved in the accident based on their negligence, Contributory Negligence or Comparative Negligence is applied depending on the state.

• Pure Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence is a rule that states that injured parties cannot recover any damages if the injuries was caused in part by his/her own negligence and that his/her negligence contributed to the accident. Even if the victim is just 1% at fault, he/she will not be entitled to receive any compensation from the one who apparently caused the crash.

For instance, John was driving recklessly at a dangerous speed and then hits Jane's car from behind that resulted in an injury. But because one of Jane's tail lights is broken, the court decided that she contributed to the accident, about 5% at fault so even though she suffers a broken leg, she cannot receive any money for the damages if she is residing in a state where contributory negligence is applied.

• Comparative Negligence

There are three variations of comparative negligence, the pure comparative fault, the proportional comparative fault at 50%, and the proportional comparative fault at 51%.

Pure Comparative Fault

In pure comparative fault, damages are measured by the percentage of one's fault. If an injured victim is partly at fault for an auto crash that resulted in his/her injuries, the damages are reduced by the measurement of his/her fault. An example of this is if a victim is injured and he was 70% responsible, the cost of his injury will be less 70% and he will only receive 30% of the amount of injury.

States that apply pure comparative fault:

• California

• Louisiana

• New York

• Washington

• Alaska

• Kentucky

• Arizona

• Mississippi

• South Dakota

• New Mexico

• Florida

• Missouri

• Rhode Island

• Proportional Comparative Fault at 50%

Proportional comparative fault at 50% states that an individual who gets injured and he/she is partially responsible for the accident, if he/she is less than 50% at fault, then that someone is entitled to receive compensation for the damages, but if the injured individual is 50% or more at fault, he/she cannot recover any damages.

If an incident where both parties are equally responsible (both are 50% at fault) for the crash, neither one of them will be entitled to recover damages.

States that apply proportional comparative fault at 50 per cent:

• Colorado

• Utah

• Oklahoma

• West Virginia

• Arkansas

• Idaho

• Nebraska

• Tennessee

• North Dakota

• Georgia

• Maine

• Kansas

• Proportional Comparative Fault at 51%

Some states use the proportional comparative fault at 51% where an individual cannot file a lawsuit and a liability claim against another driver if he/she is at fault for the auto crash at 51% or more, even though he/she suffers injuries and the other driver is liable. An injured person who is more than 51% at fault is not entitled recover any damages.

States that apply proportional comparative fault at 51%:

• Hawaii

• Texas

• Connecticut

• Massachusetts

• Wisconsin

• Nevada

• Wyoming

• Minnesota

• Illinois

• Michigan

• Ohio

• South Carolina

• New Hampshire

• Delaware

• Indiana

• Montana

• New Jersey

• Oregon

• Vermont

• Iowa

• Pennsylvania

In auto crashes, there is no exact formula to determine the percentages of fault and pinpoint who is responsible, only proper investigations and negotiations will do. If you are live in LA and have been involved in a crash, you should get in touch with any skilled Los Angeles Auto Crash Lawyers to help you negotiate with the claims adjuster and to come to some reasonable agreement as to what percentage you and the other driver's fault is.

To help you with issues regarding automobile accidents, you can consult with our expert Los Angeles auto crash lawyers. You can visit our website to avail of our free case analysis.

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