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What if you were partly at fault for your accident?

On Behalf of | Nov 4, 2021 | Car Accidents |

Under Connecticut law, you can recover compensation even if you were partly at fault for the accident in which you were injured. However, there are some important limitations. To explain how this works, first we should take a quick look at a typical personal injury lawsuit involving a motor vehicle accident.

Simple negligence

Imagine you are stopped at a stop light, when a careless driver crashes into the back of your car, injuring you. In this case, you have done nothing wrong, and the other driver has acted negligently. Because they caused the accident through negligence, you should be able to hold them liable for the damages you suffered as a result.

This has been a fairly simple explanation of how negligence works in personal injury lawsuits, but the facts in these legal actions are often much more complicated. In these trickier cases, the law can be more complicated as well.

Comparative negligence

In the past, courts held that the injured could not recover compensation if they shared any of the fault for their accident. This led to many results that seemed grossly unfair, and inspired states to reform their negligence laws. Connecticut took an approach known as modified comparative negligence.

Under this system, when multiple parties have contributed to an accident through negligence, courts assess the evidence and determine how much fault each party bears for the accident. An injured party may recover from the others so long as the injured party bore no more than 50% of the fault. However, their recovery is reduced in proportion to their share of fault.

Let’s return to the example above. Now let’s say that you were doing something wrong. When you were stopped at the light, you were slightly over the center line between two lanes when the other car crashed into you. The court determines that because of this negligent act, you contributed 15% of the fault for the accident.

Because your share of the fault is below 50%, you can recover from the other negligent driver. However, your recovery is reduced by 15%, which is the same percentage as your share of the fault. If your damages total $100,000, your recovery amount is reduced by 15%, to $85,000.

Even at a reduced amount, this type of recovery can be crucial to helping the injured and their families carry on in the wake of a serious injury. The medical expenses and other damages that follow a car accident can be extremely high, and every bit of compensation helps. An experienced attorney can help the injured and their families to review their options.