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Multiple Parties May Be Responsible After a Car Accident Occurs

Posted on March 17, 2015

On behalf of Charles Bryan Alred, PC posted in Car Accidents on Tuesday, March 17, 2015.

When car accidents occur, injured victims may seek compensation for their injuries from a driver whose negligence caused the crash. However, more than one person might be at fault when a wreck happens. Rules of comparative and contributory negligence generally dictate how to proceed when multiple people could be at fault, and Oklahoma courts follow the 51 percent Bar Rule, which is a modified form of comparative fault.

Most states use some form of comparative negligence when assessing fault and determining damages after a crash. Comparative negligence rules allow someone who suffered injuries in an accident to file a personal injury suit in civil court regardless of the person’s own fault. When determining the amount of damages a defendant owes, the total amount is reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to the plaintiff.

The 51 percent Bar Rule allows someone to recover damages for a car accident if he or she is 50 percent responsible for a crash or less, so one cannot receive any damages when more than half at fault. If an injured party seeks $20,000 for injuries and is 10 percent responsible for an accident, this party can receive damages. However, this person can only receive a total of 90 percent in damages.

While it may seem obvious that one party is responsible for a motor vehicle accident, assessing fault is often complex since anyone involved could share some degree of responsibility. This might make it important to contact an attorney when a reckless driver caused a crash that led to one’s injuries so that one may receive the full amount of compensation owed for property damage, medical bills and time off from work.

Source: Claims Journal, “Understanding Comparative Fault, Contributory Negligence and Joint & Several Liability“, Gary Wickert, Sept. 5, 2013

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