Comparative Negligence is a concern in a third party lawsuit. If you have been seriously injured in a car crash – enough that it substantially impairs your way of life – your auto accident attorney may recommend filing a Third Party Lawsuit against the at-fault driver. In many cases who is to blame for a crash is clear. But sometimes, there is a question of whether the injured motorist is partially responsible for the collision. That’s where comparative negligence comes into play.
What is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence is a legal concept that applies in all types of personal injury or “tort” lawsuits. It comes from the idea that a person should not be able to sue and receive compensation for something that was his or her fault.
The consequences of partial responsibility have changed over time. At first, a you could not sue unless you were 100% guilt-free – an innocent bystander to the event. Then, various states put limits on the amount of fault a person could bear and still recover some damages. Some states still use that model.
Michigan law now uses comparative negligence. Under this theory, how much a person is entitled to recover as damages is reduced based on how much that person is to blame for the accident. The percentage of comparative negligence is decided by a jury after reviewing all the facts in the case.
For example, if the jury decides that a person is entitled to $100,000 in damages, but that person is 25% to blame for the accident, the final award to that person will be reduced by that amount. He or she will only receive $75,000 of the $100,000 in damages suffered.
When does Comparative Negligence Matter?
When it comes to car crashes, comparative negligence only applies to Third Party Litigation. If you are suing your own auto insurance company for benefits under a no-fault policy, that insurer is responsible for all of your medical expenses, wage loss, and attendant care costs, regardless of fault. Even if you were the only driver involved and 100% responsible for what happened, Michigan law ensures that your medical needs are covered.
But in Third Party cases, defense attorneys will often argue comparative negligence as a way to reduce the damages awarded against their clients. They will do everything they can – including hiring accident reconstruction experts – to show that the accident wasn’t entirely the defendant’s fault.
The skilled trial attorneys at Christensen Law know how to make the most of a comparative negligence situation. Using our own experts, evidence, and sometimes even your own testimony, the team will help the jury understand what really happened. They will present your case and make sure you get all the recovery to which you are entitled.