After a personal injury, it is easy to say that the responsible party should pay, but the first step requires proof that the were legally at fault. Determining liability can be complicated, but it usually hinges on carelessness or negligence.
Statistics show that most accidents happen as the result of carelessness and as a rule, if one of the persons involved in the accident took less care than another, the less careful of the two must contribute a portion of the damages suffered by the one who was more careful. This is known as Duty of Care.
The rule of carelessness is determined in conjunction with one or more of the following rules:
- In the event of a defective product causing injury, both the seller and the manufacturer are liable.
- The property owner is liable in the event of an accident occurring on a property that is dangerous due to poor building or maintenance.
- The employer may be legally responsible for accidents caused by their employers.
- Compensation may be reduced in the event that the injured person also acted carelessly.
- The person who caused the accident might not be determined liable if the injured person was in the wrong place, or in a place where the type of injury-causing activity took place, in which event the person who caused the accident had no duty of care.
Sometimes, more than one person is responsible for an accident, and in most states, responsibility could lie with any of the careless parties, and they will decide amongst themselves whether they should reimburse one another.
Your own carelessness can also affect your claim, however, in most states, even when you were partly at fault, you may still receive compensation from other persons who were also partly responsible. The other party's carelessness with be compared to your own (comparative liability) and the percentage of liability will determine the percentage of damages he or she will be responsible for.
While there is no formula for determining comparative carelessness, your insurance adjuster will discuss the various factors that played a role in the accident. Your own carelessness will be factored into the value of your claim, along with other factors, such as the cost of your medical treatment and the severity of your injury.
Comparative negligence is approached differently depending on the state in which the accident occurred. In some states, you may be able to recover compensation based on the other party's fault, no matter the size of your own fault.