Can You Still Sue If the Accident Was Your Fault?

Law Office of John Hamilton

You have been in a car accident. It may have been your fault, but you were injured too.

Does this mean you can’t get any compensation for your injuries? What if the other driver was also partially at fault?

As with many legal questions, the answer depends on your state’s laws. Some states allow recovery under the comparative negligence theory. Some states bar recovery under the contributory negligence theory. About a dozen states, instead, have no fault laws.

Comparative Negligence

Under the theory of comparative negligence, you can sue and get compensation after a car accident even if you were at fault.

If your state applies pure comparative negligence, your recovery will be diminished in proportion with your fault. For example, consider a car accident that was 50 percent your fault, and your damages equal $10,000. This means you would only get 50 percent of your damages, or $5,000.

Under a more common approach, modified comparative negligence, you would not be able to recover any money if you were more than 50 percent at fault for the accident.

Contributory Negligence

Unlike comparative negligence, contributory negligence is much harsher. In a contributory negligence state, you cannot win any damages if you were in any way to blame for the accident. Even if you were only one percent responsible, you would not be able to sue for damages.

Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and the District of Columbia still follow this rule.

No Fault States

In no fault states, such as Pennsylvania, Florida, New York, and Massachusetts, your insurance will still cover your damages up to a certain amount regardless of whether or not you were at fault for an accident.

Just because you may be at fault for an accident doesn’t necessarily mean you cannot sue for compensation for your injuries. Since a determination of fault can have a dramatic impact on your ability to get compensation for your injuries, it is a good idea to never admit fault at an accident. Instead, try to remember and write down as many details as possible and contact a personal injury attorney to assist you with your case.

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