If you have recently been injured in a crash caused by another driver, you may feel that the other driver was completely to blame. Maybe they ran through a stop sign, for example, and struck the driver’s side of your car.
You can bet, however, that the other driver, or at least their insurer, will claim that some of the fault was yours. Maybe you were going over the speed limit, for example. Perhaps you didn’t look both ways before entering the intersection since you had the right-of-way. If you are determined to bear some (even a small amount) of the responsibility, what will that mean for your ability to get compensation for your losses?
Modified comparative negligence
States have various ways of determining collision-related compensation based on each party’s level of negligence. Indiana uses the modified comparative negligence or 51% fault rule. That means if one driver is at least 51% responsible for the crash, they can’t collect any damages from other at-fault parties.
When a motorist is deemed to be more than 0% at fault but less than 50% at fault, the amount of compensation that they can pursue as a result of their harm is reduced by their percentage of fault. Maybe the determination is that the other driver is 75% at fault, while you’re 25% at fault. They’ll still owe you compensation, but the amount of compensation they would owe based on your expenses and other damages is reduced by a quarter.
The law states, “In an action based on fault, any contributory fault chargeable to the claimant diminishes proportionately the amount awarded as compensatory damages for an injury attributable to the claimant’s contributory fault….”
Determining fault after a crash
You can see why making a strong case for having little, if any, fault can make a big difference in the amount of compensation you may receive in the wake of a crash. There are a lot of ways to help determine fault even after vehicles are removed from the scene – many of them relatively new. Vehicle software can show how fast each car was traveling, whether any entertainment or communications systems were in use by the driver at the time of the crash. Nearby surveillance cameras at homes and businesses can also potentially provide valuable information. Having a police report from the scene is also helpful.
Obtaining this evidence and making a strong case for yourself can make a big difference in what kind of settlement you can pursue to cover your losses. Getting experienced legal guidance as soon as possible can make all the difference.