Car Accidents May Result in Apportionment of Liability
Little Rock, AR (Law Firm Newswire) February 21, 2011 - On the surface, some car wrecks look like only one person caused the crash. In reality, the liability may be apportioned.
“In Arkansas, there is comparative negligence. While it may seem like this is a distinction without a difference, there is indeed a distinct difference. Comparative negligence lets victims demand compensation for injuries that were not their fault. A good example would be if you were in a wreck and were deemed partially at fault. That means you many still ask for damages from the other party, also at fault, based on a percentage of fault,” said Michael G. Smith, an Arkansas injury lawyer and Arkansas accident lawyer, practicing personal injury law in Arkansas.
While this may seem about as clear as mud, there is method to what appears to be madness. The method is the legal equivalent of fairness prevailing, if more than just one person was responsible for an accident and that leads one to the explanation of contributory negligence, if the state a victim lives in has it. Arkansas does not have that system.
“This is a defense that may prevent victims from getting any compensation for an accident that they are in any way responsible for. I should add that there is pure contributory negligence in some states and pure comparative negligence in others. It’s important to know the difference and that is something legal counsel will explain,” Smith said.
In Arkansas, modified comparative negligence is what is used to determine responsibility in cases where more than one person was at fault. It means that if a driver is 50 percent or more at fault, they are not able to collect damages for any injuries they may have. If they are 49 percent or less at fault, they may still ask for compensation for personal injuries.
Consider the case of John Doe, who was in a car wreck when another man hit him. Doe’s judgment was reduced by 40 percent as a result of comparative negligence, but he was still able to win a decent award to pay the medical expenses for his spinal cord injury and subsequent surgery. The court judgment was for $257,000.
Many people do not understand why they cannot collect in full for their injuries if they have been involved in an accident. If they were partially responsible for that accident and live in Arkansas, they are subject to the modified comparative negligence doctrine.
“Yes, it’s confusing, but it does end up being an equitable resolution to accident cases where both parties were at fault. If you have been in an accident like this, give me a call and we can discuss how this works in greater depth,” Smith said.
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