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Steven W. Harris, Attorney At Law Blog

Comparative Negligence May Save (or Hinder) Your Car Accident Case

Car Accident
Car crashes are, sometimes, the result of one person driving poorly or dangerously. However, there are instances in which collisions are caused by poor behaviors from both drivers in the accident. For example, a car accident that involves one driver who was speeding and another driver who was driving drunk.
Does this mean that every time comparative negligence claims are used in a case you’re involved in you are going to automatically lose? Not at all! In fact, comparative negligence can make your claim more successful if the other driver behaved in ways that also contributed to the crash. Just remember, if you were the most negligent driver, comparative negligence may be used against you. 
Comparative Negligence Can Be Complex
When you get into a car crash there may be many factors that contribute to the accident. If you were driving unsafely, but you still want to win a lawsuit, you need to understand the concept of comparative negligence. Cornell Law School defines comparative negligence as a rule for "allocating damages" when both people in a crash or personal injury case were at least partially at fault in the incident.
For example, you may have been driving too fast for the conditions during a snowstorm when you experienced a car crash. However, the other person was driving drunk and unable to control their vehicle. In this scenario, both of you were operating in ways that contributed to the accident, but the other driver was more to blame.
In this type of case, negligence will be calculated based on how much your behavior contributed to the accident. A judge may rule that driving too fast was 40 percent to blame for the crash and that drunk driving was 60 percent to blame. You will then be court ordered to pay that percentage of damages to the other driver who must pay their portion to you.
However, while comparative negligence can be a useful tool in many personal injury cases, it can also be used against you by the defendant and may end up costing you serious cash.
Comparative Negligence May Be Used Against You 
While you are trying to prove that the defendant was more negligent than you in the accident, they will be trying to prove the same thing about you.
In following with the previous example, the person who was drunk driving may use their blood alcohol level at the time of the crash to indicate that they weren't severely drunk when the crash occurred. The test may have found that they had just one or two drinks before driving, which they might argue is less problematic than your behavior.
A judge might think that your behavior was more negligent than the person who was drinking and driving. The underlying idea of comparative negligence is to determine who was breaking the law more dangerously. 
While this type of defense is often hard to mount, it can be successful if the defendant provides evidence that you were also driving erratically. Eye-witness testimony of rapid lane shifts and wild driving patterns could show that you were behaving very dangerously.  As a result, the judge could rule that you were more negligent and award more money to the defendant. 
Because of the complexities of comparative negligence claims, you must take a careful and balanced approach when engaging in this type of case. If you contributed to your car crash and you want to improve your chances of winning, contact Harris Law Firm. We can help you learn more about these kinds of cases and what must be done to prove that you were less negligent than the other driver.