When you’re injured through someone else’s negligence, you are generally entitled to pursue compensation from that person or entity.
For example, when you’re injured in a car accident that was someone else’s fault, the other driver may be responsible for your medical bills and compensating you for lost wages and other damages.
Similarly, if you slip and fall in a store because the proprietor failed to clean up a slippery spill in the aisle, the business may be required to compensate you.
But, what if you contribute to your own injury?
The short answer is that you can generally still recover damages from other responsible parties as long as you were not more than 50% responsible. However, the amount you can recover will be reduced. For example, if you suffered $100,000 in damages, but the court finds that you were 20% responsible, you would only be entitled to recover $80,000. The other $20,000, or 20%, would be your responsibility.
What is Contributory Fault?
Contributory fault is the legal term for the degree of responsibility you bear for your own accident. Her are some examples of situations that might involve contributory fault:
- You are driving through an intersection on a green light when another driver runs the red light on the cross street and enters the intersection in your path, causing a collision. The other driver negligently disregarded the traffic signal and is at least partly responsible for the accident. However, if you were speeding and the rate at which you were traveling limited your ability to avoid the accident or minimize the damage, you may be partially responsible for the accident and your recovery may be reduced.
- You slip and fall on liquid laundry detergent spilled in the aisle of a store. The manager was aware that the liquid had been spilled, but hadn’t yet sent someone to clean it up or put up a barrier or warning sign in the area of the spill. So, the store was negligent and is at least partly responsible for your injuries. But, you were in a hurry and entered the aisle at a run, not taking care to look where you were going. Since your own negligence likely played a role in your fall, you may be deemed partially responsible and may receive only a portion of your damages as a result.
You Can Recover Damages Despite Contributory Fault
The bottom line is that, although your compensation may be reduced somewhat to account for your own responsibility, it is quite possible to successfully pursue a personal injury lawsuit and recover damages despite contributory fault.
Note that you can receive damages as long as you were not more than 50% responsible. That does not necessarily mean that any other party must be at least 50% responsible. In fact, you may be able to recover damages even if you were the most responsible person involved.
Imagine, for example, that you are in a three-car accident and are 40% responsible. The two other drivers, respectively, are 25% and 35% to blame for the accident.
Although you have the largest share of responsibility for the accident, your share is not greater than the responsibility of all other parties combined, so you are still eligible to pursue damages.
Talk to an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
If you’ve been injured in an accident, you may be entitled to damages, even if you were partially at fault.
An experienced personal injury attorney can assess your case and help determine whether you are likely to be eligible for damages.
The first step is to learn more about your rights and options. Schedule a free consultation right now.