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Liability in a Car Accident

In order to be compensated for injuries sustained in a car accident, liability must be determined. To establish fault or responsibility for causing an accident, insurance companies will thoroughly investigate an accident. The type of car accident involved, any police or witness statements, driver statements, and other factors will be considered when determining who is at fault. Typically, a driver will be considered at fault due to one of the following behaviors:

  • Recklessness – knowingly committing actions likely to cause harm, including aggressive driving, drunk driving, and driving while texting
  • Negligence – any form of carelessness that may cause harm

These forms of fault will be determined using a comparative percentage of responsibility assigned to each driver in an auto accident. This means drivers may share responsibility for causing an accident or a single driver may be held solely responsible. Often, these percentages of fault can be disputed because insurance companies are motivated to pay as little as possible to others involved.

Proportional Comparative Fault

The type and percentage of fault will ultimately dictate your ability to collect damages and the amount of your compensation. Insurance companies will assess liability in car accidents based on what is known as comparative fault. The state of Nevada uses a modified version of comparative fault that bases eligibility for compensation on the proportion of fault involved. For example:

50% Fault
The cutoff to receive compensation is 50% fault. This means that if both parties are equally, or 50% each, at fault, then they can both collect damages. If a driver is determined to be proportionally most at fault, meaning they were 51% or more responsible for causing an accident, then they cannot collect damages and his or her insurance carrier will be liable for compensating the victim injured in the accident.

Less than 50% Fault
If it is determined that you are less than 50% at fault, you will be able to receive compensation for the injuries and damages you suffered. The amount of compensation you can receive will depend on your percentage of fault. For instance, if you were 0% responsible for causing the accident, then you will receive the total amount of damages assessed. If you were 10% at fault for causing the accident, you will receive 90% of the total amount of damages, and so on.

The percentage of fault will be determined by an insurance company claim adjuster. As there is no concrete formula for assessing the percentage of fault, liability can be open to interpretation and dispute. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney from Shook & Stone can assist you during this process to ensure that you are not unfairly compensated or pressured into unfair settlements. Further civil actions can also ensure that you receive the most favorable resolution possible, depending on the circumstances involved.

It must be mentioned that there are a few situations in which fault can more easily be determined. Rear-end collisions and left-turn side impacts commonly place clear liability on specific drivers. There are exceptions in these cases, such as another car’s broken brake lights or multi-vehicle accidents that pushed you into another car. A competent attorney can work with you to evaluate the circumstances involved.

Protect Yourself and Your Right to Compensation

As disputes over the percentage of fault can frequently arise, it is in the best interest of your case’s successful conclusion to consult with a legal representative as soon as possible after your accident. Percentage of fault and liability has a great influence on whether or not you can be compensated and can also affect the amount of compensation you will be able to recover.

Adept in the laws of liability, claims, and car accidents, and highly familiar with the ways in which insurance companies assess accidents and assign fault, our lawyers can greatly reduce your risk of being under-compensated. With more than 85 years of experience and more than $100 million in compensation recovered for clients since 1997, Shook & Stone knows what it takes to be successful in car accident injury claims. Contact us today.