The typical injured accident victim is often confused about how their personal negligence is applied when they are being awarded financial damages following a car accident injury. The courts have long understood that auto accidents are not always the fault of one driver, which was generally how personal contribution to an injury was once applied in common law tort cases. Even an individual with a 1% contribution to causing an accident could not file an injury claim. That is now no longer the case, as pure comparative negligence is the law when damages are being determined. Even though this is a better method of determining financial damage awards, it is still by no means a scientific process. The level of personal contribution can still be contentious among all litigants when insurance adjusters and personal legal counsels are negotiating a claim.
Each accident will normally be investigated by authorities and an official accident report is released by the investigating police department. An accident reconstruction specialist will evaluate all the material evidence concerning a mishap and detail the information on the report. This can provide an initial idea of who may be largely at fault, but there may still be revaluation by the insurance providers and legal representatives. All auto accident attorneys understand that insurance company adjusters try to control this determination from the very beginning because an inflated comparative negligence percentage on the part of an opposing injured driver can result in a smaller claim pay out. Inspecting the official accident report is the beginning of determining claim value.
How Comparative Negligence is Applied
Each driver in an auto accident is assessed a comparative negligence percentage that is ultimately used to discount their total financial damage award availability. According to pure comparative negligence law, even an injured driver who was 99% at fault for the wreck can still receive 1% of financial award totals. The accident injury negotiation generally centers around arriving at the most accurate percentage for each driver. When there are multiple negligent drivers, they are only liable to the extent of their comparative negligence percentage. The insurance companies focus on comparative negligence primarily for this reason, as the insurance company adjuster priority is only to the company and their client. The lower their client’s comparative negligence percentage, the lower the total settlement payout. This can be very important when attorneys are calculating non-economic damages for pain-and-suffering.
Going to Trial
The legal professionals at MGInjuryLawyers know that comparative negligence is usually the reason a case goes to trial, especially when the insurance provider thinks they can win a claim denying liability. A finding of gross negligence can also impact the final award. When a case goes to trial, the final determination of comparative negligence percentages is then assigned by the jury after evaluating all of the material case facts presented to them. Juries can also award punitive damages when insurance companies or their clients have exhibited bad faith in negotiating the claim or the driver was found guilty of gross negligence.
Never attempt handling an auto accident claim personally. Insurance company adjusters are trained professionals. Always get an experienced accident attorney who understands what to expect from the defense and knows how to craft a claim for maximum financial recovery.