Many people assume that only one person can be responsible for a car crash. In reality, the contributing factors that lead to a significant automobile collision can be very complex. Even situations that seem straightforward may have complicating factors that aren't obvious on the surface.
Everything from the condition of a vehicle to the health and attentiveness of both drivers can contribute to a collision. Sometimes, one driver makes a major mistake like merging into traffic or heading the wrong way on a one-way street.
When one person seeks compensation after a crash, they generally need to prove that the other party is responsible for the accident that occurred. Sometimes, the other party can raise the defense that the liability was split between both drivers. This legal concept is known as comparative negligence, and you need to understand it if you hope to seek compensation for a motor vehicle accident.
Comparative negligence assigns a percentage of fault
Comparative negligence (or comparative liability) assigns each driver or entity involved in a crash a percentage of the responsibility for the accident. Texas is one of many states in which an individual who is 51% or higher responsible for a crash cannot seek compensation.
However, individuals who bear as much as 49% of the culpability for a collision can bring a personal injury lawsuit against the other party in the crash. The amount of compensation that someone can recover will reflect a reduction based on their percentage of comparative liability.
Insurance companies try to get you to implicate yourself
Comparative liability can save someone responsible for a crash a lot of money. That financial impact can also pass on to the insurer of the responsible driver. In the wake of a major crash, insurance adjusters may speak to the victim in the hopes of mitigating their liability.
Insurance representatives may ask for a recorded statement and then ask leading questions. Things that the victim says innocently could implicate them in some manner and result in an assignment of comparative liability. Attorneys representing a driver who causes a crash may also take steps to get the other parties involved in the crash to admit some degree of responsibility.
The risk of accidentally implicating yourself when the crash is clearly the fault of another driver is one of many reasons why you should definitely talk with a personal injury attorney after a crash. Not only can they advise you of your rights to see compensation, but they can also help protect you against making mistakes that could impact your ability to get the compensation you deserve.