How does comparative fault work?

On Behalf of | May 29, 2023 | Personal Injury

Comparative fault, or comparative negligence, is a legal principle in personal injury cases. It is used to allocate responsibility or fault among the parties involved. It recognizes that multiple parties may contribute to an accident or injury to varying degrees.

Comparative fault laws vary by jurisdiction, but the concept generally allows for the apportionment of damages based on the degree of fault of each party.

How does it work?

In a comparative fault system, the court or insurance adjuster assesses the actions or negligence of all parties involved. They will then assign a percentage of fault to each party. The court may reduce the total compensation awarded to the injured party based on their given percentage of fault. For example, let us say the total damages awarded are $100,000. If the court finds the injured party to be 20% at fault, they may reduce their compensation by 20%. So, the final award will be $80,000.

There are two primary types of comparative fault systems:

  • Pure comparative fault: In this system, the injured party can recover damages even if they are predominantly at fault. Their assigned percentage of fault reduces the amount of compensation. For example, even if the injured party is 80% at fault, they can still recover 20% of the total damages.
  • Modified comparative fault: This system sets a threshold beyond which the injured party is barred from recovering damages. The threshold is typically set at 50% or 51%. If the injured party’s assigned fault percentage exceeds the point, they are not eligible for compensation. They can recover damages if their given fault percentage falls below the threshold. But it may still be reduced proportionally based on their assigned percentage of fault.

It is important to note that comparative fault laws can have variations and nuances depending on the jurisdiction. Therefore, consulting a personal injury attorney familiar with Indiana laws would be wise. Doing so can help them understand how comparative fault may specifically apply to a case and its potential impact on your compensation.

Comparative fault in Indiana

Indiana follows a modified comparative fault system with a 51% bar rule. Under this rule, an injured party can seek compensation if their assigned percentage of fault does not exceed 50%. If their set fault percentage reaches or exceeds 51%, they are barred from recovering any damages.

Comprehending the concept of comparative fault helps individuals seeking compensation in personal injury cases assess their level of responsibility. This knowledge empowers them to present a stronger case by being able to gather evidence to mitigate their assigned fault percentage.