One of the biggest reasons why people choose to not hire a personal injury lawyer is that they're worried they partly contributed to what happened. Fortunately, the system allows some room for this sort of scenario, and such people are often able to successfully pursue claims. Let's look at the factors which will determine if you can recover damages and how they may influence what you might receive as a settlement or judgment.
Type of Liability
It's worth noting that there's one scenario where partial responsibility on the part of the claimant may not matter. Strict liability applies to cases where a defendant is engaged in an activity that society deems especially dangerous. This class of cases includes attacks by exotic animals, most incidents involving explosives, and many types of incidents involving chemicals, radiation, or biological agents.
In cases of strict liability, the only question is whether the defendant's actions led to the claimant's injuries. If so, the defendant is liable in full. Otherwise, the law looks at what's called contributory negligence.
When dealing with more commonplace accidents and negligence, the court does care about the claimant's contribution to what happened. Most states use a formula where the defendant has to be at least 51% responsible for happened. If that's the case, then the defendant owes only their percentage liability. For example, if you were 20% liable in a slip-and-fall case because you were running and incurred $10,000 worth of medical expenses, the defendant would have to pay $8,000.
How Is This Calculated?
You might wonder how the heck anyone comes up with a percentage regarding who did what in a case. Typically, an insurance claims adjuster and a personal injury lawyer will negotiate. The attorney will present evidence showing why the defendant was at fault. If the insurance adjuster feels there was some contribution by the claimant, they'll adjust the settlement offer accordingly. The two go back and forth until they arrive at a settlement in most cases.
If negotiations fail to come up with an answer, the only other solution is to sue. Presuming the suit doesn't prompt a settlement, the matter will go to trial. At trial, a judge will instruct a jury to consider the evidence and determine what contribution, if any, the victim made to their injuries. If the jury finds there was contributory negligence, they must determine if it is under the 50% threshold. If the defendant is found predominantly at fault, the claimant's contribution will be deducted from the judgment.
To learn more, contact a resource like Leisawitz Heller.Share
16 October 2020
While I took a few business classes in college, I left early to start my own business. I thought I had the knowledge I needed to become a great business owner and was eager to start my business. Soon, I had a new business that was actually performing pretty well in sales. Unfortunately, I hadn't taken any law courses in college, and I soon realized I made a few mistakes when starting my business that could cause me some legal trouble. Thankfully, a great business lawyer helped me correct my mistakes before I had any legal problems, but I then decided to take those business law courses. I want to help business owners and anyone else who would like to learn more about the law by starting a blog where I will share what I have learned and will continue to learn. I hope I can help you!