What if I Am Partially At-Fault for My Own Injury?
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- What if I Am Partially At-Fault for My Own Injury?
Sustaining injuries in an accident is often a traumatic experience with long-term ramifications. The immediate concerns of getting medical attention evolve into the difficult challenges of recovery. The last thing you want to deal with is insurance companies or lawsuits. However, you won’t receive the compensation you deserve unless you are proactive. Even so, it can be a long and challenging road, especially if you are partially at fault for your injuries.
Determining Fault in Personal Injury Cases
The outcome of any personal injury claim rests on which party is at fault for the accident. However, determining legal liability is rarely a straightforward process, and often more than one party holds some responsibility for the accident.
After an accident, the insurance companies for all parties involved conduct independent investigations to establish fault. Each party is invested in finding evidence that proves its customer is not liable, thereby reducing how much the company pays out in damages. Lawsuits work similarly, with legal representatives looking for proof that reduces or absolves their clients of responsibility.
What Is Needed To Prove Liability?
Legal liability is linked to the legal definition of negligence. Negligent conduct is any action or omission that does not meet the standard of care a reasonable person would take in the same situation, resulting in injuries to another individual. Establishing liability requires you to meet the following criteria for negligence:
- Duty of care: You must demonstrate that another party had a responsibility to behave in a way that protected the safety of others. This may mean following the road rules or maintaining a property free from hazards. You may have similar duties in obeying traffic laws or engaging in safe behaviors while on another party’s property.
- Breach of duty: A violation occurs when an individual knows a danger exists and fails to correct the situation. Drivers who tailgate breach their duty, for instance. Likewise, property owners who fail to make necessary repairs are not adhering to a duty of care for legal visitors. You may breach your duty if you were speeding at the time of the accident or if you engage in horseplay while a guest on someone else’s property.
- Accident causation: Failure to adhere to responsibilities is insufficient to prove negligence. You also need to establish that the breach led to or contributed to the accident that caused your injuries. If you or another party can’t present evidence demonstrating the other party’s actions contributed to the accident, you can’t establish liability.
- Damages incurred: You also must prove that you sustained injuries from the accident and that those injuries resulted in measurable damages. Measurable damages are generally associated with financial costs. Medical and rehabilitation expenses and lost wages are the two primary examples. Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, tend to have monetary values assigned.
When you file an insurance claim, the insurance companies do not consider non-economic damages. If you suffered non-economic damages, you must pursue a legal claim for an opportunity to recover those types of losses.
Understanding the Role of Fault in Insurance Claims
After the insurance companies conduct their investigations, claims adjusters assign a percentage of fault to each party. The degree of culpability the company assigns to you impacts how much the company pays in damages. In other words, if you are partially at fault, the company will likely not cover all your losses, even if its client has enough coverage to pay for the damages.
It’s essential to note that insurers are not necessarily interested in fairness. They want what’s best for the company’s bottom line. Their investigations will almost always find some way to lay blame at your feet. While you may be partially responsible, it may not be to the extent that the insurance company states.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
Negotiating with claims adjusters is often a taxing and frustrating endeavor. The representatives may attempt to get you to accept a quick settlement, pointing to your liability to justify their inadequate offer. They may also deny your claim entirely.
Frequently, people feel pressured into talking to the insurance company representatives and inadvertently make statements the reps can use against them. Negotiations can drag on without a satisfactory conclusion.
A personal injury attorney understands state laws governing insurance companies. A lawyer with experience handling these cases also knows how to deal with claims adjusters and protect your rights. Phillips Law Group’s personal injury lawyers can help you gather the needed evidence and file your claim. You can also count on them to deal with communications and negotiations.
Understanding the Role of Fault in Legal Claims
It may be necessary to file a legal claim to seek compensation for your injuries if you do not reach a fair settlement with the insurance company. Additionally, if your injuries are severe, your losses may exceed policy limits and include non-economic damages insurance policies won’t cover.
As with insurance claims, if you share responsibility for the accident, you won’t recover all your losses. Each state has personal injury laws that regulate the allocation of settlements. Almost all states operate under comparative negligence laws.
What Is Pure Comparative Negligence?
Arizona joins 12 other states in following pure comparative negligence laws. Under this type of law, plaintiffs have a right to recover damages, even if they are partially at fault for their injuries. However, the amount they can recover depends on the degree they are at fault in the accident.
If you share responsibility for your accident, your settlement is lower than if the other party was entirely at fault. The amount you receive is directly proportional to your liability. If the legal representatives or the court determine that you are 30% at fault, you recover 70% of the total calculated losses. If you are 99% liable, you still receive 1% of the calculated losses.
What Is Modified Comparative Negligence?
Another 33 states follow a modified comparative negligence law. This type of law is similar to pure comparative fault, but there is one difference that significantly impacts outcomes for some plaintiffs. When plaintiffs are more than 50% liable, they cannot collect any damages.
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help?
A personal injury lawyer can walk you through the legal process, beginning with helping you understand the merits of your claim. Attorneys know what evidence to gather to construct a solid case and can usually get their hands on it quicker than their clients.
Personal injury lawyers from Phillips Law Group can represent you in negotiations, presenting your case and protecting your rights. Though only about 5% of all personal injury cases go to court, our lawyers will not hesitate to go the distance should negotiations not come to a satisfactory conclusion. Your attorney will also ensure that your case meets critical legal deadlines so you don’t miss your opportunity to seek a fair settlement. In Arizona, you have two years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit. If you miss the deadline, you have no other legal options for recovering damages.
Getting Help From Arizona Personal Injury Lawyers
If you sustained injuries in an accident, Phillips Law Group is here to help. You have a right to pursue compensation, even if you bear some responsibility for the accident. Make sure your rights are protected, and your case fairly represented, whether you’re dealing with the insurance companies or the legal system. Get in touch with us today for a free case review. We don’t get paid unless you collect.
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