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If I Am Partially At Fault For A Personal Injury, Can I Still File A Lawsuit?

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Anyone who is injured by the negligent acts of another person has the right to file a personal injury claim. The purpose of a personal injury claim is to hold the at-fault party accountable for their negligent behavior and demand that they compensate you for the injuries they have caused.

But in many cases, more than one party may be partially to blame for the accident. Sometimes, one of these negligent parties is the person who is filing the personal injury claim. What happens if you are partially to blame for your own injuries? Can you still file a lawsuit? Here’s what you need to know:

The Role of Negligence in Personal Injury Cases

It’s important to understand how negligence plays a role in personal injury cases before learning about whether or not you can recover compensation if you are partially to blame for the accident.

In every personal injury case, it is the plaintiff’s responsibility to prove that the defendant’s negligent behavior directly caused the plaintiff’s injuries. To do this, the plaintiff must prove the following:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff
  • The duty of care was breached
  • The plaintiff was injured as a result of the breach of duty of care

A “duty of care” is a legal term that refers to a person’s obligation to act in a responsible manner in order to avoid hurting others. For example, a driver owes a duty of care to all other drivers on the road. Drivers must act responsibly because if they don’t, their actions could harm other drivers on the road.

Breaching a duty of care is the definition of negligence. A duty of care is breached when a person fails to fulfill this legal obligation to act reasonably and responsibly. Using the same example from above, drivers can breach a duty of care when they choose to get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol. Driving drunk is not reasonable or responsible, so the driver is breaching the duty of care they owe to other drivers. Of course, this is only one example of how someone can breach their duty of care to others.

If the breach of the duty of care results in injuries, the victim has the right to sue. This means if a drunk driver hurts someone by colliding into their vehicle, they have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the drunk driver.

If the plaintiff can prove these three elements of negligence, they can prove the defendant was liable for the accident and recover compensation for their injuries.

Modified Comparative Negligence Laws in Iowa

Sometimes, the plaintiff’s negligence can contribute to the cause of the accident as well. For example, let’s say you are jaywalking across the street when a vehicle hits you. The driver of the vehicle was texting at the time, which is why they did not see you in front of them. Texting while driving is dangerous, so the driver of the car that hit you is partially to blame for the accident. But, you are also partly to blame. Jaywalking is illegal and dangerous, so engaging in this activity is negligent. If you had walked across the street at a crosswalk, the accident may not have happened. In this case, both parties’ negligence led to the accident.

Iowa has modified comparative negligence laws that come into play when the plaintiff is partially responsible for the accident that caused their injuries. The law states that a plaintiff can still recover compensation from the defendant as long as the plaintiff is not more than 50% liable for the accident. However, the amount of compensation that is awarded to the plaintiff will be reduced to account for the role that they played in the accident.

To illustrate how these laws work, let’s say you file a personal injury lawsuit against another driver who crashed into your car. The jury finds that both you and the defendant were negligent, and therefore both of you are partially responsible for the accident. They believe that the defendant was 70% responsible for the accident and you were 30% responsible. As a result, the compensation that is awarded to you will be reduced by 30%.

As previously mentioned, the law bars plaintiffs who are more than 50% responsible for the accident from recovering compensation. This means if the jury found that you were 51% responsible and the defendant was only 49% responsible, you would not be awarded any compensation for your injuries.

How to Determine If You Are Partially to Blame

Determining who is liable for an accident is one of the most difficult steps in a personal injury case. It involves conducting a thorough investigation to gather evidence that shows which party caused the accident. Evidence can be obtained by interviewing witnesses, reviewing surveillance footage, examining photos of the scene of the accident, and working with an accident reconstruction expert. Conducting this type of investigation requires extensive resources, which is why it’s best to let a personal injury attorney help. An attorney will be able to gather the evidence that you need to prove the other party was to blame. If your negligence played a role, an attorney can fight to ensure that this does not affect your ability to recover compensation.

Have you been injured in an accident that was partially or totally another person’s fault? If so, contact Trial Lawyers for Justice today to schedule a consultation regarding your case. Our experienced personal injury attorneys will help you seek justice against the negligent parties and recover the compensation that you deserve. The sooner that you contact our team about your case, the better the outcome may be.

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Trial by Human

Nick Rowley founded Trial by Human, a nationwide legal education course to help trial lawyers improve their skills in the courtroom by "being human".