How does contributory negligence impact an injury lawsuit?

On Behalf of | May 26, 2020 | Car Accidents |

When you get hurt in a car crash, you likely need insurance to cover your medical costs and the expenses related to repairing your vehicle. Provided that the other driver was clearly at fault, you might expect that their insurance will pay for all of your costs and that you could take them to court if there are expenses that their insurance won’t cover.

What you might not consider is that in some cases, both drivers have at least partial responsibility for a collision. In a situation where the other driver is primarily at fault, but your actions also directly contributed to the outcome of the collision, the amount of compensation you can seek in a personal injury lawsuit might be slightly lower.

Do you have any contributory negligence for the crash?

The driver responsible for the crash has liability for the collision. In a situation where you were stopped at an intersection waiting for a light to turn red and another driver smashed into you from behind because they were on their phone, it is likely that the driver who didn’t pay attention to the road will have total responsibility for the crash and the injuries or property damage it causes.

However, if you were at a four-way stop and you began to move through the intersection, only to have a driver who didn’t fully stop speed through and hit you, if you weren’t using your blinker, you may still have some partial contributory negligence for the crash.

What that means is that although the other driver is primarily responsible because they didn’t stop as required by law, you also have some degree of responsibility for the failure to use your blinker. Small actions that contribute to the likelihood of a crash can impact your rights if you bring a personal injury lawsuit against the other party.

The courts will express your fault in the crash as a percentage

The standard approach in a personal injury lawsuit related to a car crash where both drivers may have some partial responsibility involves determining the exact percentage of fault that one driver carries for the collision.

Once the courts determine the percentage of fault or contributory negligence that you had for the outcome of the accident, they will then apply that percentage to any compensation used in the proceedings. If you have a 31% responsibility for the crash, the courts will reduce the compensation they award you accordingly. Avoiding statements that imply shared responsibility can help you avoid rulings of contributory negligence when you seek compensation in the lawsuit.


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