How comparative negligence affects an accident claim for drivers

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2021 | Motor vehicle accidents |

The journey toward receiving just compensation for injuries received in an auto accident can be full of complications, especially when multiple drivers are at fault. Shared fault is common in many West Virginia accidents, and both law enforcement officers and insurance providers evaluate each driver to determine the level of fault. However, even with the wrangling that happens when claims are being potentially settled, all car accident attorneys know the court makes the final determination. This typically occurs when there is a difference among the parties regarding comparative negligence.

What is comparative negligence?

Comparative negligence is the legal doctrine controlling the assigning of fault in any personal injury situation. Some injured drivers are at least partially at fault for their own injuries, and that fault is expressed in a comparative negligence percentage. Some accidents are very clear regarding fault. However, for those that are not so clear, West Virginia uses modified comparative negligence law with the personal injury bar for financial recovery set at 50% fault for drivers.

The process of determining damages for drivers

Officials rarely evaluate injured passengers for negligence in auto accidents, but this is not the situation for drivers. All drivers are assigned a negligence percentage. Officials then use the percentage of fault to discount their total damages if the percentage is below 50%. This can be problematic for drivers involved in a two-car accident where both drivers are equally at fault because a 50-50 shared fault determination results in neither driver receiving any personal injury compensation.

How an attorney can help

Accident attorneys understand that auto insurance companies have considerable input in determining initial accident fault percentages, and adjusters are especially aggressive when they can argue for equally shared fault at the 50% level. A jury makes the final determination if a case ends up in court. West Virginia personal injury attorneys could pinpoint elements of the accident that reduces the level of negligence for their clients when presenting a case for maximum damages.