What if I’m Partially at Fault

Being involved in a motor vehicle accident leaves a party wondering “what if I’m partially at fault?”  The answer to this determines the financial obligation of each party involved in the collision.  Many times when a motor vehicle collision occurs the report involves identifying all parts of the incident, this ultimately results in placing fault or blame on one party or both.  Identifying who is at fault is the most crucial part of the claim.  If one party was entirely at fault for the collision then liability is clear.  When liability is clear the only question to be addressed then is, what are the damages?

Many times if fault is not clear and it appears both drivers contributed to the collision then the question becomes what is that driver’s degree of fault in this collision.  This will determine the contribution of damages to the overall claim.  Answering the question of: what if I’m partially at fault has huge economic implication.  The degree of fault is usually the sticking point with many insurance companies.  If they can offset any fault from their insured onto the other driver then their cost of the claim is reduced by a percentage of the fault assigned to the other side.

In order to ascertain blame, many times the adjuster will look to see who was ticketed for the incident.  If only one party was ticketed, then arguably the blame is with that person.  However, insurance adjusters are quick to point out any degrees of fault from the other party in an effort to reduce any potential claim or payout.  The degrees of fault are determined by reading the narrative of the police report and citations.  Offering an apology at the scene of the accident could imply you were the one at fault.  Even if you are partially at fault, you should not offer any kind of apologies at the scene.

The police report will usually not weigh in on degrees of fault.  It will merely provide a summary of the incident as provided by the drivers and witnesses to the incident.  The fault then will be argued by the attorney and the insurance adjuster.  If you are partially at fault, you may not have received a ticket but the insurance company may attempt to make you pay for whatever  your contribution to the accident.

If you are partially at fault it can reduce the amount of potential settlement proceeds by the degree of fault that has been assigned to you.  For example if your settlement amount was initially $3,000.00 and you were found to be 30% at fault then the final payout amount would be reduced by $900.00 or your percentage of fault.  This percentage is usually an arbitrary number and can be argued.

In some states if you are partially at fault the degree of negligence assigned to you can prevent you from recovering from the other party.  It is important to speak with a Little Rock AR personal injury attorney before you speak to the insurance company or give a recorded statement to determine if you are partially at fault.  The laws of your state will determine what this means for you money wise.

Thanks to our friend and contributor from the Law Offices of Lisa Douglas, Inc. for their insight