How Does Comparative Fault Impact the Value of My Case?
If you have suffered an accident in Indiana, you might be wondering what exactly is comparative fault and how it influences the value of a personal injury case. Comparative fault directly determines the compensation amount someone injured in a personal injury case can receive, and it’s vital to demand fair compensation.
In this blog post, we’ll cover all you need to know about comparative fault, which is one of the factors that impact the value of any personal injury case in Indiana. You’ll walk away with a thorough understanding of the compensation you can receive and how to proceed to secure the best outcome possible.
What Is Comparative Fault & How Does It Work?
Comparative fault, also called comparative negligence, is a legal principle that assesses the degree of fault of both the plaintiff and the defendant in personal injury cases (like cases of premises liability, medical malpractice, accidents that caused catastrophic injuries, and other personal injury cases).
So, instead of a black-and-white scenario, where one party is entirely at fault, the comparative fault system recognizes that both parties might share some degree of responsibility for the incident.
In Indiana, if you’re involved in an accident and are found to be partially at fault, this doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to recover damages. However, the compensation you receive will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you, according to the Indiana Code § 34-51-2-5.
For example, if you were involved in a car accident and the court determines that you were 20% at fault, your compensation will be reduced by 20%. So, if your damages amount to $100,000, you would only be eligible to recover $80,000.
Factors Affecting Case Value in Indiana
Since the percentage of fault assigned to each party directly influences the compensation amount, we can say that comparative fault heavily impacts the value of a personal injury case in Indiana.
However, other factors also affect the case value of a personal injury case. For instance, the credibility of witnesses, the clarity of evidence you present, and the specific circumstances surrounding the incident all influence how fault percentages are determined.
To put a real-world example: one of our case results secured an astounding $30 million for a victim of a truck accident. In this case, liability was not the only factor that determined the damages he could receive.
Other factors, such as the severity of his injuries (the accident caused him to suffer severe burns over 50% of his body), the cost of medical expenses, loss of income due to inability to work, and the pain and suffering endured, all played a role in how much compensation we were able to claim.
In these scenarios, having a personal injury lawyer who can adequately calculate your damages and build a strong case will significantly maximize the value of a personal injury case.
Types of Comparative Fault
Three types of comparative fault are used to determine liability in personal injury cases in Indiana:
Pure Comparative Fault
In jurisdictions that follow the pure comparative fault rule, each party involved in the accident is assigned a percentage of fault based on their actions. A plaintiff can recover damages regardless of their degree of fault, but this recovery is reduced by their percentage of fault.
So, under pure comparative fault, even if you are found to be 99% at fault for the accident, you may still be entitled to receive compensation for the remaining 1% of damages.
Modified Comparative Fault
On the other hand, the modified comparative fault rule establishes that a plaintiff can only recover compensation if they are less at fault than the defendant (nevertheless, the recovery is still reduced by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault).
50% Bar Rule
The 50% bar rule stipulates that a plaintiff can recover damages only if they are less than 50% at fault. If they are 50% or more at fault, they cannot recover any damages.
51% Bar Rule
Similar to the 50% bar rule, if you are found to be 51% or more at fault for the accident, you won’t be able to recover any compensation.
Your personal injury lawyer will help you calculate your portion of fault, advocating for your right to fair compensation. Even when you are a victim of an accident that was clearly not your fault, the other party may use comparative against you.
How Can Comparative Fault Be Used Against You
After an accident that resulted in personal injury, the other party may try to use comparative fault to reduce the amount of compensation they are required to pay.
Typically, insurance companies and other opposing parties attempt to leverage the concept of comparative fault by arguing that you share a significant portion of fault for the accident, and therefore, should receive less compensation. This way, they can substantially reduce the compensation amount they have to pay.
So, if you are involved in a personal injury case, it’s crucial to be aware of these tactics and prepare yourself to counter them with solid evidence and legal arguments.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help with Comparative Fault
We can meticulously evaluate the specific circumstances surrounding your case, gather compelling evidence, and build a strong case to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Your attorney can shield you from tactics employed by insurance companies aiming to diminish your claim, evaluate the fairness of any settlement offers, and negotiate with other parties to seek a higher payout if necessary.
At Christie Farrell Lee & Bell, we have been helping personal injury victims since 1993 to build strong cases and pursue compensation for their injuries and damages, helping them to hold responsible parties accountable. If you are struggling with a personal injury case in Indiana, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.