In most cases, even if you played a role in your injuries, you can still be compensated for your hospital bills or pain and suffering.
That is not true, however, in what is known as a Pure Contributory Negligence state, where you will not be able to recover any damages (including pain and suffering) if you are found to be partially at fault, no matter how much or how little, even if it’s just 1 percent.
These states include Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
That means even if you were only slightly at fault – let’s say you were struck by a car that ran a red light, totally your car and leaving you seriously injured, but were speeding slightly as you traveled through the intersection – an insurance company can deny you any compensation, even if you suffered a catastrophic injury in the crash.
The right personal injury attorney, however, can work to ensure compensation for injuries or wrongful death cases, even in these states, depending on the circumstances.
Do I need an attorney?
If you may be partially at fault in an accident, it’s especially important to hire an attorney to help you secure a fair settlement.
There are some states, called Modified Comparative Negligence states, where if an insurance adjuster determines your fault to be 50 percent or more, you cannot collect damages, no matter how seriously you are injured. A personal injury attorney, however, will argue your case and seek evidence on your behalf to reduce your percentage of fault to secure you a fair settlement.
In Pure Comparative Negligence States, you are more likely to secure compensation for your injuries, even if you were partially at fault. In those states, your compensation is reduced based on your percentage of fault. For example, if you are awarded $400,000 but are found to be 25 percent at fault, you will only receive a $300,000 settlement.
What should I do?
If you are in an accident, there are certain steps you should take to make it easier to be awarded compensation for your injuries.
- Call the police, so that there is an official record of the accident. That report could absolve you of any responsibility, making it an important document to successfully settle your case.
- Remember not to talk too much. It’s important not to say anything – including taking any sort blame for an accident, especially at the scene – before you speak to an attorney. If you were injured in an accident, saying nothing is especially important. What you believe to be blame may not be seen as such legally, so speak to someone who knows before you jettison your case. That means saying nothing to an insurance claims adjuster until you’ve spoken to an attorney.
- Talk to witnesses if you are able, or gather phone numbers so that your attorney can contact them later. They will be more objective and impartial, and could go a long way toward helping you prove your lack of responsibility for the accident.
If you were injured in an accident in which you were partially at fault, you may still have a valid personal injury claim, and may be eligible to be compensated for your injuries as well as other expenses. Contact an experienced auto accident lawyer to be sure at The Law Firm of Frederick J. Brynn, P.C.