What are your options if both drivers were partially at fault?

Much of life is messy, and fault for car accidents is no exception. There are many instances in which both drivers in a car accident are at least partially to blame for causing the crash or increasing the severity of their own injuries in that crash. How are such cases resolved? Can either driver sue the other if both were at fault? Thankfully, being partially at fault doesn’t necessarily prevent you from seeking compensation with the help of a Salt Lake City, UT Auto Accident Lawyer like those at Rasmussen & Miner. Below, we’ll discuss what’s known as the “comparative negligence” law in Utah.

How the law treats joint negligence

Utah recognizes a type of comparative negligence commonly known as “modified comparative fault.” This principle says that even if you were partially to blame for the accident or the severity of injuries, you still have the right to pursue compensation through litigation as long as your level of fault does not exceed 50 percent. But it may be taxing trying to figure out whether your actions put you at the 50% mark. For example, a court may almost certainly bar you from seeking recovery if your blood alcohol content level was at 0.08 at the time of the accident, even if you were not swerving. But will a court bar you from seeking recovery if you put your head down to send a text at a red or yellow light? Are you 50% at fault if you looked down for three seconds to fish something out of your console? A seasoned auto accident lawyer is best equipped to analyze these questions for you. If you win or settle your case, your compensation will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you. This means that, if you are 30% at fault and your damages come to a total of $100,000, then you must foot the bill for $30,000 of your expenses. But fault can also be divided amongst multiple parties. For example, let us suppose that one at-fault driver put her head down to send a text message and, when she looked up, she saw the car in front of her was slowing down, so she suddenly hits brakes. Now, what if the car immediately behind her knew that his tires weren’t aligned and that he had been risking driving on bad tires for awhile now, so when he slammed on his brakes, his tires blew out or his car swerved and hit yours. In a case such as this, the second at-fault driver is likely to argue that he wouldn’t have hit your car had not the first at-fault driver suddenly hit her brakes. But, a court is likely to find both drivers partially liable for your damages. Here, one driver may be 45% liable and the other driver may be found to be 55% liable. In this case, they will pay their respective shares of your expenses.

Do Gather Evidence

Gathering as much evidence as possible is the vital organ to a successful case. Lack of evidence, no matter how severe your injuries, can significantly reduce your compensation or even put you at a greater percent of fault than what you are really at. The more evidence you have, the stronger your auto accident claim will be. Make sure to take several photos of the accident scene and visible injuries. You should also obtain a copy of the police report, medical records and auto repair bills. Your auto accident lawyer will help you request any traffic-cam videos, if they’re available, and subpoena witnesses. Oftentimes, other drivers can accurately testify as to what happened before and after an auto accident occurred. However, they are not always comfortable coming forward or getting involved. Now, you might think that a witness who is subpoenaed may not be as truthful as she or he should be, but that is hardly the case. Witnesses, whether they come to the stand voluntarily or not, understand the weight of any court case and are typically very honest about what they saw and heard. Without a witness, your accident may be a matter of she say, he say.

Don’t Ignore Your Emotional Injuries

When many people think about auto accidents, they only imagine physical injuries. However, these accidents can also result in emotional injuries, like depression, anxiety, anger, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Don’t be afraid to seek mental health counseling for your emotional injuries. In fact, you are legally entitled to seek compensation for your non-economic injuries, which are your emotional damages. In court, they are called pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and loss of consortium between you and your spouse. These emotional injuries are most common where your physical injuries cause disfigurement, your need for physical therapy negatively impacts your romantic life with your spouse or children, or your new fear of driving or loss of enjoying driving (such as riding a motorcycle) hinders your life.