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Partially at Fault for a Car Accident – Am I Entitled to Compensation?

What if a car accident “victim” isn’t 100% a victim? What if they partially contributed to the car accident?

Car accident cases can be very complex. In a straightforward situation, you have a clear guilty party and a clear victim. The guilty party, whose actions have led to a car accident and injury of the victim, is generally liable to cover the medical expenses and property damage of those they hurt.

two men discussing car accident

Based on the severity of the impact, a settlement amount is negotiated, the victim receives payment, and everyone can move on. But what if the victim isn’t 100% a victim? What if they partially contributed to the accident too?

Can you still recover damages in this case?

Understanding Comparative Fault

Missouri is a pure comparative fault state, which means the amount of damages you are able to recover in a car accident lawsuit is reduced by the percentage of your own guilt. Because you may have contributed to the results of the impact, Missouri believes you should not get full compensation.

For instance, if you are 20% responsible for the accident, and your total losses are $1000, you can only receive 80% of the damages to account for your own fault. As a result, you generally cannot receive more than $800 as a settlement.

Will It Affect Insurance Claims?

Most car accident cases go through one of the party’s insurance companies and don’t see a day in court. In Missouri, it’s mandatory for drivers to carry auto insurance, so it’s very unlikely to get a case on trial unless you have some serious accusations – like if the other driver intentionally tried to run you over with a car. Even then, the matter is likely to go through criminal court, not a civil court, where you’d normally get the settlement.

The pure comparative rule can affect your insurance claim as well. Though there’s no rule saying the adjuster has to account for your guilt percentage, they can certainly use your own fault as leverage to lower the settlement as much as they can.

How to Receive a Better Settlement

Whether you are going the insurance claim route or taking the matter to court, the amount of damages you receive can depend greatly on your St. Louis car accident lawyer.

In a trial, your lawyer has to convince the jury this accident has caused you harm, and your involvement in it was small, and may not have contributed greatly to the collision. This way, the amount you get can be higher.

The same goes for insurance negotiations. Your lawyer will meet with adjusters and argue on your behalf for the best settlement possible. It’s very difficult to accurately establish a percentage of fault in a car accident. Most of the time, the end result depends on the skills of your attorney. Therefore, it is important to get in touch with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

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Updated: October 6, 2021