What Happens if You Are Partially At Fault for an Accident

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In many, if not most, accidents, it is quite evident who is at fault. Yet, in many cases, two or even more parties are partially at fault. Situations such as these lead to an important legal question: if you share fault for an accident, are you still able to seek compensation? The answer can be complex and is contingent on the state in which you live.

The majority of states use the standard of comparative fault. Comparative fault means someone may still be able to seek damages for an accident for which they are partially at fault. Pure comparative fault laws permit a plaintiff to seek partial compensation for a qualifying accident even if they bare the majority of the blame.  Even if the person was mostly responsible for the crash, he or she may be able to receive a percentage of the awarded damages. There are 12 states that include the principle of pure comparative fault. They include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington.

Conversely, the principle of modified comparative fault is stricter than the principle of pure comparative fault. Modified comparative fault permits a person to seek legal compensation proportionally to their degree of fault. Though, if they surpass a certain percentage of responsibility, they are then disallowed from collecting damages.

Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia have the 50 percent bar rule. In these states, if you are determined to be more than 50 percent at fault, you will not be permitted to seek any damages for your accident.

Similarly, in some states, there is the 51 percent bar rule. In these cases, a person is not allowed to seek damages if he or she is more than 51 percent responsible for the accident. In states that follow this rule, if both parties share equal responsibility, they are both permitted to collect 50 percent of the awarded damages. The 51 percent bar rule states are: Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

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