As an injury lawyer in Mississauga tackles, a given client’s claim, that member of the legal profession seeks an answer to this question: Who caused the accident that helped to create this client’s injury? Sometimes, the answer does not seem entirely clear.

Fault is a key word in any personal injury lawsuit.

It identifies that person who has, allegedly, caused the accident. Faultfinding normally points a finger at someone that has been negligent. A negligent individual has been careless and neglectful. In addition to pointing out the negligence of the responsible person, faultfinding serves another purpose. It attaches a name to the individual that is about to become responsible for compensating the victim.

Legal rules that apply to shared fault

Some states follow the principle of contributory negligence. According to that principle, any victims that have contributed in some way to creation of their own injury have lost their right to claim a monetary compensation.

A larger number of states follow the principle of comparative negligence. According to that principle, whenever 2 or more parties have been negligent, prior to an accident’s occurrence, the legal system should determine what percent each of them contributed to creation of the unfortunate incident.

The percent to which either party contributed to creation of an injury-causing incident would indicate the degree of compensation due to the victim. In other words, the victim’s percent of damages would be equal to percent of fault, as shown by the other party.

Some states use modified contributory negligence. In that case, a calculation of the amount of money that goes to the victim proceeds, if the defendant caused more than 50% of the factors that caused the accident. If that is not the case, then there is no reason to calculate the extent of the victim’s compensation.

Who determines the percent to which any party contributed to creation of a given accident or injury?

If the associated personal injury case has proceeded to trial, then the jury makes that determination. Prior to the litigation stage, the insurance company that has received the claim could respond by alleging that the claimant was at least partly responsible of the accident/ injury.

If a claimant has learned that he or she has been named as one of the at-fault parties, then that same claimant can either accept the insurance company’s allegation, or fight it, using a personal injury lawyer. Claimants that choose to fight such an allegation increase their chances for benefitting from a fair settlement.

Still, not all claimants welcome the thought of retaining a lawyer. Unfortunately, the avoidance of acts such as searching for and consulting with an attorney encourages introduction of unfair proposals by the other party’s insurance company.