Can I Seek Compensation if I Am Partially at Fault for My Car Accident?

Last updated on: December 26, 2020


Car accidents can be a major stumbling block in life. An accident can leave you debilitated and unable to work.  It may prevent you from doing the hobbies you enjoy. However, not all is lost after a car accident. You may be able to recover some of your losses by filing a car accident claim.  Even if you were somewhat at fault for an accident, you may still have a viable claim.

If you or your loved one has been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our car accident lawyers.

Can I Seek Compensation If I Am Partially at Fault for My Car Accident?

In most cases, yes. You may still seek compensation even if you were partially at fault for a car accident.

How Is Fault Determined?

Sometimes, both drivers are at fault.  Fault can be determined in three main ways: modified comparative negligence, pure comparative negligence, and contributory negligence.  States vary in how they determine fault, so it is best to consult with a local attorney to understand how your state’s comparative negligence laws may impact your claim

Modified Comparative Negligence

The modified comparative negligence system of determining fault is the most common in the United States. In the modified comparative negligence system, a defendant’s liability is lessened by the amount the plaintiff was at fault. For example, imagine that a plaintiff was 20% at fault for an accident because she was texting while driving at the time the vehicle that crashed into the plaintiff was running a red light. In this case, the defendant in the case could argue that the plaintiff was somewhat at fault for the accident so the compensation that she receives should be reduced by that amount. For instance, if the plaintiff was to be awarded $100,000, she would be awarded $80,000 since she was 20% at fault ($100,000 – $20,000).

In a modified comparative negligence system, as long as the accident victim is below a certain threshold of fault, he or she may be able to recover some amount of compensation. The threshold varies among the different states. Some states require that the accident victim must be 50% or less at fault to recover compensation, while some states like Colorado require that an accident victim must be below 50% to recover compensation.

Pure Comparative Negligence

In the pure comparative negligence system, there is no threshold requirement for the accident victim to meet to be awarded compensation.  As long as the defendant in the case is at fault for the accident, then the plaintiff may be awarded compensation.  For instance, if a jury or judge finds that the defendant was 99% at fault and the plaintiff was only 1% at fault for the accident, the defendant would be still be awarded compensation.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence is the strictest form of determining fault.  Very few states utilize the contributory negligence system.  Those states are Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia.  The contributory negligence system simply states that if an accident victim had any fault in causing the accident, and the defendant can prove that the accident victim was at fault, the accident victim is denied any form of compensation.

To prove that an accident victim was at fault, the defendant must show that the victim was negligent.  To show negligence, the defendant must show that the accident victim failed to protect his or her own safety as well as the safety of others.  An example of negligence in the context of a car accident is an accident victim who got rear-ended because she was changing lanes erratically.

Types of Car Crashes Where Fault May Be Split Between Parties

Rear-End Crashes

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about are rear-end crashes. Though it is often the case that the driver of the car that rear-ended the other vehicle is at fault, it is not always the case. For instance, a driver that weaves in and out of traffic or makes sudden stops may be at fault for a crash even if he or she was the victim of a rear-end crash.

Compensation from a rear-end collision injury settlement depends on many factors. Every case is different. Injuries from a rear-end collision can take several days to show. When you get hit from behind by a vehicle, your seat moves into your body’s torso while your vehicle moves forward.  At the same time, your head may be pushed back into the headrest.  The result can be injuries to your neck and back. Depending on how fast the car hit you from behind, the severity of your injuries may vary. Though it may seem counterintuitive because they are considered safeguards, airbags can also cause injuries in rear-end accidents.  In general, if you are going over 20 miles per hour at the time of injury, your airbags should deploy upon a crash. This deployment can cause facial injuries.

T-Bone Crashes

A T-bone crash occurs when a car runs a stop sign or a red light and ends up crashing into another vehicle. If a driver runs a red light and crashes into another vehicle, that driver is generally at fault for the crash.

In the case of a driver who crashes into another vehicle after stopping at a stop sign, whether or not the driver is at fault depends on whether the driver had the right-of-way. Whether the driver had the right-of-way depends on if he or she was at the stop sign first.

Changing Lanes

Cars that change lanes recklessly are another major source of car accidents. Some drivers do not check their blind spot before switching lanes. If a driver does not check his or her blind spot and changes lanes, he or she may be responsible for the accident. However, this is not always the case. For instance, if the weather is extremely foggy and the car behind you has not turned on its lights, you may not be totally responsible for the accident if you change lanes and end up hitting the car. Furthermore, if you were changing lanes but the car behind you decided to speed at an unreasonable rate, you may also share responsibility with the other driver.

Head-on Collisions

A head-on collision is another type of crash where the fault may be divided between the drivers. Head-on collisions generally occur when one driver travels the wrong way down a one-way street or an exit ramp. As a result, the driver crashes into a car coming in from the opposite direction. These crashes can be the most devastating of the major types of crashes as the cars hit the front of their vehicles, which is the portion of the car where the driver is most vulnerable.

Multi or Pile-Up Accidents

Of course, a car accident does not have to involve just two cars. They can involve three or more vehicles. These car accidents can be labeled as multi-vehicle or pile-up accidents. Often, in a multiple vehicle accident, the driver of the rear vehicle is at fault and is called the primary offender. In these cases, the driver of the rear vehicle crashes into the car directly in front of it, causing that car to crash into the next car and so on. This type of multiple vehicle accident is called a chain reaction collision.

Less typically, the driver of the frontmost vehicle can primarily be at fault in a multiple vehicle accident. For instance, if the frontmost vehicle stops suddenly out of carelessness or for another reason, this can cause a multiple vehicle accident. That is because the car behind it may not be able to stop in time and end up crashing into the frontmost vehicle. Again, like in the situation above, which describes a chain reaction collision caused by a rear vehicle, a chain reaction can similarly occur due to the frontmost vehicle.

A driver of the middle vehicle can be the primary offender as well. In such cases, the driver of the middle vehicle fails to stop in time and crashes into a car in front of it that has stopped validly. If a car behind the middle vehicle crashes into the middle vehicle because of the middle vehicle’s sudden stop, then a multiple vehicle accident has transpired.

Though less typical, multiple vehicle accidents that involve head-on collisions or side-impact collisions exist as well.  

Read More: What If a Passenger Caused My Car Accident?


The experienced personal injury attorneys at Zinda Law Group may be able to help you with your claim, even if you believe you may be partially at fault for your car accident. After an accident, you shouldn’t have to worry about affording legal representation, which is why we work on a contingency fee basis. You don’t owe us anything unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.

Call us today at  (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our car accident lawyers.   

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