What If I Am Partially To Blame For A Car Accident?
In an accident where a negligent party is totally at fault for a victim’s damages and injuries, the victim reserves the right to file a claim against the negligent party (or their insurance company), alongside the right to seek recovery for 100 percent of their damages. This is because the state of Nevada abides by an at-fault system of recovery.
However, in the event that a victim in an accident is partially to at fault for the accident, the right to recover 100 percent of their damages no longer applies. Instead, the rule of comparative negligence comes into effect. If you have been injured in a car accident in the Las Vegas area where you were partially to blame, here’s what you need to know about comparative negligence:
What Is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence is a rule that addresses a victim’s rights and limitations in the event that they contribute to their damages and/or injuries in an accident. Most states adhere to some form of comparative negligence.
As referenced in NRS 41.141(1), in any action that is brought for the purpose of recovering damages for death or injury, the comparative negligence of the victim will not serve as a means of recovery if the negligence was not greater in comparison to the negligence against the party whom damages are sought. In other words, as long as you were not more than 51 percent to blame for your accident and injuries, you still reserve the right to financial recovery for your injuries.
Comparative Fault & Recovery Of Damages and Injuries
Although Nevada State law may allow a person who partially contributed to their own damages to pursue financial recovery as long as they were not more at fault for the accident than the other party(ies), the rule of comparative negligence will prevent you from recovering a full compensation award.
Per the rule of comparative negligence, a plaintiff’s award for recoverable damages will be reduced in relation to their percentage of fault. For example, if a jury concludes that a defendant is 70 percent at fault for an accident, and the plaintiff is 30 percent at fault. When all is said and done, the total value of damages suffered by the plaintiff is $100,000. As such, the defendant would be liable for 70 percent of this, or $70,000.
This rule also applies in a case where there are multiple defendants: each defendant will only be liable for the percentage of fault that they are apportioned.
How The Jury Awards Damages When Comparative Negligence Exists
Bear in mind that the majority of personal injury claims are settled outside of court. If an outside settlement cannot be reached, you may conclude that litigation is your best option. In this event, here’s what you should know about how a jury will apportion damages:
If the jury decides that the plaintiff still reserves the right to bring a case to court provided that they are less than 51 percent to blame, they will issue a general verdict that encompasses the total amount of damages the plaintiff would be able to recover, disregarding their apportionment of negligence (NRS 41.141(2)(b)(1)). Once this has been done, the jury will issue a special verdict that details the percentage of negligence that is distributed to each party in the suit (the plaintiff and any defendants). The plaintiff’s special verdict is then applied to the general verdict, thus reaching the final award amount.
Comparative Negligence and Insurance Companies
Due to the fact that the rule of comparative negligence is one that can be used to reduce the defendant’s percentage of liability (and the amount of money they have to pay out), insurance adjusters will try to place as much blame on the plaintiff as possible. Even if the plaintiff was not partially at fault, an insurance adjuster may argue that you:
- The plaintiff did something negligent to contribute to the accident, such as texting while driving, looking down to change the radio station, etc…
- The plaintiff failed to wear their seatbelt, failed to undergo routine automobile maintenance, or failed to issue due care.
- The plaintiff failed to seek and/or continue with medical treatment as recommended by their doctor.
Be on the lookout for these types of accusations, and be aware of the fact that an insurance adjuster is not your friend, and they will do everything in their power to ensure you receive as little compensation as possible.
Call The Injury Firm Today
If you have been in an accident in Las Vegas, NV and you are questioning your percentage of fault, give The Injury Firm a call. Our experienced Las Vegas car accident lawyer believes that you deserve to be fully compensated after a car accident, and he will do everything in his power to ensure you receive the maximum compensation possible. Give us a call 24/7 at (702) 800-0988 for a free and confidential case review.