Determining fault in a personal injury case can be difficult. Take car accidents, for example, they are usually not 100% someone’s fault. There can be a lot of factors that contribute to an accident, including other vehicles, weather conditions, traffic conditions, and even your own negligence. So how exactly is fault determined in a PI case?
Evidence will play a large role in determining fault in a PI case. After an accident, make sure to contact the police immediately. An officer will come to the scene and create an accident report. The officer will often indicate on the report who they determine to be at fault and why, this could become a very important piece of evidence in your personal injury case. In addition, make sure to gather other evidence, such as:
- The contact information of other parties involved
Most personal injury cases will fall under the tort law principle of negligence. Negligence is the failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. For example, in a personal injury case arising from a car accident, you would need to prove the following:
- Duty: The other driver owed you a duty to drive responsibly and safely.
- Breach of Duty: The other driver breached that duty when they failed to drive in a reasonable manner.
- Causation: The driver’s breach of duty caused the accident.
- Damages: You suffered a personal injury as a result.
Determining fault is one of the most important aspects of accident claims, yet how insurance companies deal with negligence claims varies from state to state.
Contributory negligence is often an affirmative defense used in accident claims. Contributory negligence occurs when a party acts negligently and ends up injured as a result.
Example: Driver 1 was driving negligently and speeding through the neighborhood. Driver 2 failed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign. Driver 1 struck Driver 2, causing a neck injury. Because Driver 2 was also being negligent when they breached their duty to come to a complete stop, Driver 2 contributed to their own injury.
PURE COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE
Many states, including Arizona, consider pure comparative negligence, a type of contributory negligence, when processing an accident claim. Pure comparative negligence states that, when an accident occurs, the fault of each party involved is based upon their respective contributions to the accident. The percentage of fault is often used when determining damages.
Example: Using the situation above, let’s say Driver 2 pursued a personal injury claim against Driver 1 and was awarded $100,000. However, Driver 2 was found to be 30% at fault for the accident, therefore Driver 2’s damages will be reduced by 30% to $70,000.