Determining Fault in Auto Accidents
As the temperatures rise and vacations loom, more people get in their cars and hit the Dallas highways, often bound for other states. This increased traffic leads to increased automobile accidents and injuries. Most people assume that laws regarding fault for automobile accidents are uniform across the country, but this is not the case. Depending on the state where the accident occurs, there are multiple ways of determining fault. Determination of fault is a critical aspect of automobile accidents, since who is at fault, and how much, has a direct effect on how damages are determined and who can claim what, and an experienced personal injury and accident lawyer is crucial
A handful of states (Alabama, District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia) still adhere to what is known as "pure contributory negligence." What this means is that if you are at fault (negligent) in any way during an auto accident, even if the other party was much more at fault, you wouldn't be able to recover damages from that person, since your negligence contributed to the accident.
Most states have one of three more tempered versions of contributory negligence. Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington follow what is called, "pure comparative negligence" or "pure comparative fault." This means that the degree to which you were negligent or at fault for the accident is subtracted from the amount of damages you can claim. If you were 90% at fault for an accident, and claim $10,000 in damages due to injury, the most you could receive would be $1,000, or 10% of $10,000.
Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming use a different method of determining fault and awarding damages through what is called, "proportional comparative negligence" or "proportional comparative fault" under the 51% bar rule. This standard dictates that if you were involved in an auto accident and were 51% or more negligent or at fault, then you are unable to claim any damages, regardless of the extent of your claims.
Finally, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia follow a similar but slightly different form of "proportional comparative negligence," this time with a 50% bar rule. This rule states that if you are involved in an accident and are less than 50% negligent, you are entitled to compensation. Once again, the amount you can claim will be reduced by the percentage of your negligence. This rule also allows for two parties to be equally negligent in an accident, resulting in neither party able to claim damages.
Since Texas is a 51% bar rule state, the insurance adjuster's determination of fault is crucial in deciding whether or not accident victims will be able to claim damages. Most drivers don't have the skills, experience, or time to properly negotiate with an insurance company in order to best represent their interests when determining negligence or fault in an accident. On top of that, the insurance company employs a number of strategies or tricks to avoid paying out large sums of money. Finding an experienced, quality personal injury and accident attorney in Texas is key to insuring you receive the compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in Texas or while on vacation, contact Polewski & Associates to schedule an accident lawsuit consultation.