In many cases, you can get money even if you’re partly to blame for your car accident. The law in most states entitles crash victims like you to compensation for at least some of the damages you suffered in a crash that was partially your fault. It would be a mistake to assume that you can’t get paid just because your actions played a role in a crash. You can, and a car accident lawyer can help you.
Table of Contents
- Most States Let You Seek Damages Even If You Were Partly to Blame
- But You Also Might Not Deserve as Much Blame as You Think
- Because Blame Is a Complex Legal Issue
- So It’s Usually Best to Avoid Telling Others That You Blame Yourself
- Multiple Parties Might Bear the Blame for Your Car Accident
- You Might Deserve Significant Compensation
- What a Car Accident Attorney Can Do for You?
- Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today
Most States Let You Seek Damages Even If You Were Partly to Blame
Only four states Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia and the District of Columbia bar you from seeking compensation if you were partly at fault for a car accident. In all the rest, you may pursue a claim for damages against a party who was at fault for the crash, even if you share some of the blame for what happened.
Finally, in the one remaining state, North Dakota, the law entitles you to seek damages for a car accident you partly caused, provided you were only slightly negligent compared to the gross negligence of the other party or parties.
But You Also Might Not Deserve as Much Blame as You Think
Regardless of the rules that apply in the state where you had your car accident, it’s also critical to recognize that you can’t always trust your belief that you are partly to blame for a car accident.
Psychology researchers have long observed that many people who suffer through traumatic events tend to blame themselves, despite having little or no responsibility for what has happened. It’s unclear why humans do this; perhaps it’s a coping mechanism of sorts. But whatever the explanation, the research seems to indicate that feelings of self-blame after a car accident might not always reliably reflect reality. Simply put, you might not be as blameworthy as you think.
To gain an accurate assessment of who or what caused your car accident, seek out the perspective of a skilled car accident lawyer. Connecting with an attorney who represents car accident victims like you gives you access to a wealth of knowledge about how car accidents happen and what it truly means to be at fault for one. It’s not unusual for a skilled lawyer’s evaluation of the facts to differ from yours and to conclude that you deserve far less blame (if any) for what happened.
Because Blame Is a Complex Legal Issue
Blame, after all, can be a complicated question. Generations of lawyers, judges, and scholars have puzzled over how to define blame (or fault) and how to apply it to car accidents and other harmful mishaps.
They’ve filled entire law libraries writing about the decisions, actions, or inaction that make someone blameworthy. And at the risk of oversimplification, they’ve generally concluded that laying blame involves conducting a careful, fact-based assessment of whether a person involved in an accident acted in a reasonably prudent manner or, instead, engaged in conduct that was unreasonably dangerous under the circumstances.
No one, and certainly not an injured accident victim, can realistically perform that sort of nuanced analysis in the stressful moments after a car accident. And if you’re honest with yourself, it’s probably not something you have the time or energy to undertake at any point while recovering from crash-related injuries. It’s an inquiry that usually requires diligent investigation, a degree of emotional detachment, and a thorough understanding of the law. A task for a skilled car accident lawyer, in other words, and not an injured and rattled crash victim.
So It’s Usually Best to Avoid Telling Others That You Blame Yourself
Mistakenly blaming yourself for a car accident can cost you dearly. If you tell a police officer or insurance adjuster that you think you are at fault, they’ll believe you and treat your statement as fact. And that can have significant legal and financial consequences. Depending on where your accident happened, a mistaken admission of fault can forfeit your rights to compensation completely or lead to you receiving far less than you deserve.
To recap, just because you feel like a car accident was partly your fault doesn’t make it so. Fault depends on facts, not feelings. And facts can take time and effort to uncover. Imagine, for example, that you blame yourself for a crash because you think you could have stepped harder on the brakes to avoid a collision. But a forensic examination of your car might reveal that your brakes were defective and that even slamming on the brakes with both feet it wouldn’t have made any difference. Your self-blame, no matter how genuinely felt, would turn out to be misguided.
For that reason, until an experienced lawyer who represents your interests has had a chance to review the facts, it’s often best not to say anything to anyone (other than your lawyer or a mental health professional) about your belief that you might bear some blame for a car accident.
Even casual comments like “I should have seen the other car coming” or “Maybe I could have braked quicker” can be taken as admissions that you are responsible for a crash, regardless of their accuracy. If you must talk to police officers, accident investigators, or insurance adjusters about the crash, stick only to the facts of what happened. Leave blame and especially self-blame out of it.
Multiple Parties Might Bear the Blame for Your Car Accident
When viewed objectively by an experienced lawyer, the evidence from a car accident can often point to numerous causes and multiple parties with potential liability. Every car accident differs. You never know what the facts will reveal until you dig into them.
It’s not uncommon, for example, for a lawyer to conclude, after a careful analysis of the circumstances, that blame for a crash lies with one or more of the following parties:
- A careless or reckless driver whose actions behind the wheel caused a collision
- A business that failed to train its drivers or maintain its vehicles properly, leading to a crash
- An automotive manufacturer that sold defective parts that failed and led to a wreck
- A bar, restaurant, or social host that served alcohol to an underage drunk driver
- A government agency or contractor responsible for unreasonably dangerous road conditions
These are just a few examples. But they illustrate the fundamental principle known to all experienced car accident lawyers that blame for an accident isn’t always obvious, or even knowable, at the beginning of a car accident case. It only becomes evident through the hard work and reasoned insight of an experienced legal professional.
And it’s a vital part of getting money for an injured crash victim. The more parties who may bear the blame, the greater the likelihood that insurance policies and assets will be available to pay the victim’s damages. Skilled lawyers know how critical it can be to uncover potential sources of payment to maximize their client’s financial recovery.
You Might Deserve Significant Compensation
As the victim of a car accident, even one in which you bear some blame, you may have the right to pursue compensation for the full scope of harm you’ve suffered. It may surprise you to learn just how far your rights extend.
In the typical case, a crash victim like you can often seek payment from the parties at fault for your:
- Medical expenses in treating your injuries and any related future health complications
- Costs of repairing or replacing your damaged vehicle and other personal property
- Out-of-pocket expenses involved in living with or adapting to your injuries
- Lost earnings and job benefits, including paid-time-off you used, from missing work
- Loss of future income because of your injuries (such as when you suffer a permanent disability)
- Physical pain and discomfort
- Emotional distress and suffering
- Diminished quality of life
- Daily inconvenience due to your injuries
- Living with scarring or disfigurement
If another party at fault for the car accident acted intentionally or with extremely reckless disregard for your safety, you may also have the right to seek an award of punitive damages from a court. To learn about the scope and nature of the damages you might claim, consult a skilled attorney.
What a Car Accident Attorney Can Do for You?
You cannot realistically expect to receive the maximum compensation available for your car accident, however, without hiring an experienced lawyer to handle your case. That’s especially true if you actually do deserve to take some of the blame for the crash.
A lawyer’s job is to take care of every aspect of the process of pursuing compensation for you.
The right lawyer for your car accident case can show you a strong track record of success for car accident victims and has the resources and know-how to:
- Investigate your car accident to determine how it happened and who is to blame
- Evaluate whether you bear any fault for a car accident and, if so, your level of responsibility
- Locate and gather evidence supporting your potential claim for compensation
- Assess your rights to compensation under the law applicable in your state
- Analyze insurance policies to establish whether and for how much they cover your losses
- Submit claims for compensation to insurance companies that cover you
- File lawsuits against at-fault parties seeking damages on your behalf
- Negotiate settlements of your car accident claims
- Advise you about whether to accept or reject settlement offers
- Take your case to court to prove liability and damages in a trial
- Ensure you receive all money owed to you
Car accident lawyers routinely represent their clients on a contingent fee basis. That means that they get to work on your case without charging you a dime upfront. And they only receive a fee if they succeed in getting money for you. Lawyers work this way because they know that car accident injuries can put victims under significant financial strain. By handing cases on contingency, attorneys make their services available to anyone who needs them.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today
In most states, you do not necessarily lose your right to compensation by being partly to blame for a car accident. You can still seek payment for the damages someone else caused to you in many cases. But it’s also critical not to jump to conclusions about your blameworthiness for a crash. You might well be deemed less at fault than you think.
An experienced car accident attorney can evaluate your car accident, determine who was to blame and explain your options. Contact a personal injury law firm in Philadelphia today for your free consultation.