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Can I Be Compensated If I Was Partly At Fault For My Car Accident?

February 2, 2021 | Car Accident

If you or somebody you care about is injured in a car accident due to the careless or negligent actions of another driver, you should be able to recover compensation through an insurance settlement or a personal injury lawsuit with the help of a qualified personal injury lawyer. However, there is often confusion about what happens if the injury victim is partially responsible for the accident. The good news is that even a driver who is partially responsible for a crash is generally able to recover compensation. However, there are exceptions to this, and various caveats need to be explained. 

Understanding Comparative Negligence in West Virginia 

There are some states around the country that operate under a contributory negligence system. In these states, an injury victim is not able to recover compensation if they are responsible for the incident in any way. However, that is not the case in West Virginia. 

West Virginia Code 55-7-13A establishes that this state operates under a comparative negligence system for all civil personal injury claims. This means that, if an injury victim in any way contributes to their injuries, the total amount of compensation that they receive will be reduced based on their percentage of fault. 

Under the modified comparative negligence system in West Virginia, an accident victim will not be able to recover any compensation if they are 50% or more at fault for the incident. 

To give an example of how this may look after a vehicle accident occurs, let us suppose that Sheila is rear-ended by another driver and sustains $100,000 in total medical bills and lost wages as a result of the incident. In most rear-end accident cases, the rear driver is going to be at fault. However, suppose that one of Sheila’s tail lights was out and the other was dim. In this case, it may be possible that Sheila is cited for equipment failure. 

Now suppose that it is determined that Sheila is 30% responsible for the incident because of the equipment failure. Ultimately, Sheila may receive only $70,000 of the total $100,000. This may be $30,000 less than she expected to receive, but it accounts for the 30% of her liability for the incident. 

Contact a Lawyer Today 

If you or somebody you care about has been injured in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation. This is true even if you were partially responsible for the incident. It is crucial to let a skilled Martinsburg car accident attorney help you with your case. An attorney can use their resources to investigate every aspect of the claim in order to properly determine liability. The goal will be to secure as much compensation as possible for your injuries, including coverage of your medical bills, lost wages, household out-of-pocket expenses, and more. 

You can be certain that the insurance carrier of the other party will do everything in their power to limit how much they pay you in a settlement. This includes trying to shift some or all of the fault onto you. Remember, West Virginia operates under a modified comparative negligence system which prohibits recovery of compensation for any person 50% or more responsible for the incident. The insurance carrier of the other party will do their best to try and say you were the main contributor to the incident. However, an attorney will be able to push back against the tactics used by the other party in an effort to ensure you are treated fairly.