The term “comparative negligence,” or “comparative fault,” is used when two or more parties are at fault for a collision. When at least one party gets injured, and he/she is partially at fault, is he/she still entitled to compensation? If an injured party is partly at fault for the accident, he/she can probably still recover compensation, but the amount of compensation will be reduced.
Comparative fault is a confusing topic, but a Little Rock car accident attorney can help you understand how comparative fault works in an Arkansas car accident case and handle your claim or lawsuit on your behalf.
An Overview of Comparative Negligence in Arkansas
In its simplest form, comparative fault allows for a reduction of your compensation in an amount equal to your percentage of fault. For example, let’s say you’re in a car accident. You’re 10 percent at fault in causing the motor vehicle crash, and the other driver is 90 percent at fault. You suffer injuries as a result of the crash.
In that scenario, your total money damages will be reduced by 10 percent (your percentage of fault). If your damages are $100,000, for instance, that amount will be reduced by $10,000. After reducing your money damages by $10,000, the other driver will have to pay $90,000, and you will “eat” the remaining $10,000 because of your own negligence.
Note that Arkansas follows the 49 percent rule, which means that you must be 49 percent or less at fault to recover. If you are 50 percent or more at fault, you will receive nothing. That will be the case regardless of how much your damages are. In the example above, even though your damages are $100,000, you will not receive a dime if you are 50 percent or more at fault.
How Comparative Negligence Differs from Pure Comparative Negligence
In a pure comparative negligence state, there is no 49 percent rule. Instead, regardless of your percentage of fault, you can recover some money as long as the other party bears some fault. For example, you could be 99 percent at fault in causing the collision and still recover. In that case, if your total damages are $100,000, the damages would be reduced by 99 percent, and you would only receive 1 percent of your total losses, or $1,000.
What Is Negligence?
Now that we’ve explained how comparative fault works, it might help to know what the legal definition of negligence is. To prove negligence, you must show duty, breach, causation, and damages:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. In a car accident case, this legal duty is usually easy to establish because everyone who operates a motor vehicle on public streets has a duty to drive in a reasonable fashion, obey traffic laws, and refrain from harming others.
- The at-fault party breached the duty of care. For example, let’s say another driver turns in front of you and causes a collision. Even if that driver does not receive a citation, the driver has driven in an unreasonable fashion and violated common-sense rules of the road, which is a breach of the duty of care. That is negligence.
- The negligence caused the crash. In order to assert a bodily injury claim, you will also have to show that the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries.
- You have quantifiable losses. Usually, you must have measurable damages to pursue a claim for compensation under a legal theory of negligence. Physical injuries satisfy this requirement.
In a situation in which there is more than one at-fault party, the liability and damages issues are complicated. An Arkansas personal injury attorney can sort out these issues and help you seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses. For help with your case, contact our office today.