Although you would like it to be easy to prove fault for your accident, it's not always easy. Whether it be a slip and fall, car accident or medical malpractice, claims can be challenging to prove. In order for a person or entity to pay for your injuries, you must be able to prove who the responsible, or liable, party is. What follows are some general rules that may help you in proving fault for an accident.
In most accidents, there is going to be at least one party that is liable for any injuries. The law uses a simple rule to determine liability: if a person involved in an accident was less careful than another, then the person who was less careful must often pay for (at least some of) the injuries and damages suffered by the more careful one. Thus, in a negligence case for instance, the question becomes whether the defendant acted as a reasonable person would have in similar circumstances.
There are some simple, common sense rules that can be easily applied to this concept of legal liability.
More Than One Person at Fault
The issue of proving fault when more than one person could potentially be liable for a person's injuries is not that much more complicated. In fact, if more than one person is at fault, it can increase an injured person's chances of recovering full damages.
In most states, if the injured party can prove that multiple parties were responsible for his or her injuries, then the law makes all the negligent people responsible for the entirety of the injured person's injuries. There is one major advantage to most injured persons -- he can choose who to collect the damages from.
If You Were Partly Responsible -- Comparative Negligence
There are circumstances and situations where it is hard to say that another driver or person was entirely responsible for your injuries. In car accidents, often both the injured person and the other driver may be partly responsible. In these cases, a rule known as comparative negligence is used. Under this rule, blame is apportioned to both drivers in percentage amounts, and any awards are reduced accordingly.
Still, there is no concrete formula that insurance companies use when determining fault. As with most things in life, determining the amount of blame that can be placed on you will probably come down to a negotiation. The claim adjuster for the insurance company may come to you with a percentage, and you can either accept their determination, or make an argument that their calculation is not correct.
State Laws Controlling Comparative Negligence
States can be broken down into three categories when it comes to comparative negligence:
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While proving fault can sometimes be as simple as using common sense, it more often involves complex legal analysis. That's where an attorney comes in. If you'd like to learn more about the strength of your claim and the legal options available to you, you can do so free of charge. Take the first step and contact a personal injury attorney for a free claim evaluation.