Sometimes motor vehicle accidents are clearly the fault of only one driver. For instance, if you were obeying the traffic laws as you drove through downtown Charleston, only to be hit by a drunk driver in an intersection, it’s clear that the accident wasn’t your responsibility.
However, many accidents aren’t so clear-cut. Sometimes both drivers contribute in different ways to the collision. What happens if you ran a red light right before the drunk driver hit you? What if you were speeding, or texting, or simply not paying attention? Can you still pursue a personal injury claim if you were partly at fault?
The answer is maybe. It depends on how much of a role you played in the auto or truck accident.
It All Comes Down To Something Called Modified Comparative Negligence
Some states, such as Alabama and Maryland, follow the “contributory negligence” rule. This means that if you are at fault in any way, no matter how small, you can’t collect personal injury damages.
West Virginia, on the other hand, follows a rule known as “modified comparative negligence.” As AllLaw points out, this means that:
1. You can pursue personal injury damages as long as you weren’t 50 percent or more at fault.
2. The amount of compensation you’re eligible for depends on your percentage of fault.
Here’s an example: You suffered $100,000 in damages in a car wreck. The jury determines that you were 20 percent at fault and the other driver was 80 percent at fault. Your personal injury award would be reduced by 20 percent ($20,000). This means that you would receive $80,000 instead of the full $100,000 in damages.
Personal injury cases can be complex, so if you’ve been in an accident, it’s wise to consult an attorney skilled in this area of law. He or she can advise you about what to expect and how much money you may be able to pursue in your particular case.