Sometimes it’s very clear who is responsible for a car accident. One of the drivers may have been intoxicated, texting, speeding, or simply failed to pay attention to traffic signals. In other cases, both drivers involved in the collision may be partially at fault. Can you still file a car accident claim if you were found partially at fault? Yes. When this occurs, the state’s comparative fault laws determine each party’s percentage of fault, and those percentages are used to calculate each party’s liability for the damages involved.
Can You Still File a Car Accident Claim If You Were Found Partially at Fault?
You need to learn a little about negligence laws in Missouri to understand the answer to the question, “Can you still file a car accident claim if you were found partially at fault?”
Negligence occurs when a person or entity acts or fails to act in a way that violates a duty that is owed to someone else. All drivers must operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner. For example, if you violate the traffic laws, drive while you are distracted, or drive under the influence, your actions are considered to be negligent. And if your actions lead to a collision that injures someone, you may be liable to pay damages. Similarly, if another driver fails in his or her duty to operate his or her vehicle in a reasonably safe manner, he or she may be liable to pay damages to you if you were injured in an accident as a result. When both drivers are partially to blame for causing a collision, comparative fault laws determine each party’s degree of liability.
The Comparative Fault Law in Missouri
Under common law, plaintiffs who contributed any degree of fault in their accidents’ causes were barred from recovery. This bar to recovery meant that plaintiffs who were determined to be even one percent at fault were unable to recover damages for their losses. Recognizing that this was not just, the Missouri Supreme Court adopted the pure comparative fault system in its decision in Gustafson v. Benda, 661 S.W.2d 11 (1983). Under this rule, comparative fault is used to determine the percentage of damages that each party is responsible for in an accident. Missouri’s comparative fault system requires each at-fault party to take responsibility for the losses that they have caused in collisions.
If you file a lawsuit and are found to be partially at fault, the percentage of fault for which you are responsible will be determined and allocated to you. Your percentage of the fault will then be subtracted from the damages that are awarded to you. For example, if you are found to be 10 percent at fault and were awarded $100,000 in damages, you will receive a net award of $90,000 after your percentage of fault is subtracted.
To recover damages after a collision in which you were injured, you must demonstrate that the other driver was negligent. Your attorney will gather and present evidence that illustrates the following elements:
- The defendant had a duty to act in a reasonable manner and breached that duty.
- The breach of duty was the direct or proximate cause of the accident and injuries.
- You suffered harm as a result.
Your attorney must present evidence to support each of these elements, including verifiable documentation of the losses that you suffered.
Of course, the defendant may also present evidence to show that you shared some fault in the accident’s cause. If he or she is successful in showing that you were partially at fault, Missouri’s comparative fault rules will come into play. The jury will determine the percentage of fault to assign to both you and the defendant, and you will each be responsible for paying your respective shares of the damages.
Get Help from an Experienced Attorney
Suffering injuries in a car accident can change your life. If you believe that the other driver was at fault for causing your accident, you might recover damages to pay for your losses with the help of an experienced attorney at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave. Even if you are determined to be partially at fault, it is still possible for you to recover damages to pay for some of your losses. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.