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What if I’m partly at fault for my car accident?

When we discuss car accidents on this blog, we tend to write about relatively straightforward cases: Negligent Driver A crashes into Innocent Victim B; Innocent Victim B is injured; Innocent Victim B sues Negligent Driver A to recover compensation for damages resulting from the accident.

This scenario applies to many personal injury cases, but others are not so simple. What happens if Driver B was partly at fault for the accident? Is she barred from recovering compensation?

Under Kentucky law, the answer is no.

In this type of scenario, Kentucky courts apply a legal doctrine known as pure comparative fault. The court first assigns to each party a percentage of the fault for causing the accident. The plaintiff’s share is reduced by the percentage of her fault.

Imagine a fictional accident in which Adrian’s pickup truck collides with Beth’s sports car. Beth is injured and suffers damages of $10,000. The court determines that Adrian was 75% at fault for the accident and Beth was 25% at fault. Therefore, Beth can recover compensation for her damages, but her award will be reduced by 25%, to $7,500.

Under pure comparative fault, Beth could theoretically recover compensation even if the court determined she was 99% at fault for the accident, although she would recover only 1% of her damages. In practice, it would almost certainly not be worth Beth’s effort to pursue legal action in that case.

People who have been injured in a car accident face enormous medical expenses, lost wages and other damages. A personal injury lawsuit can help them with these costs as they rebuild their lives. An experienced personal injury attorney can help the injured and their families to understand their legal options and how the law may apply to the unique facts of their case.