All states use some form of comparative negligence law when adjudicating auto accident cases. Some accident cases are clear cut cases of full fault by one particular driver in many instances, but the truth is that many accidents also include shared fault to some degree. Injured claimants who were driving a vehicle that was involved in the crash may have restricted available benefits when the accident is finally settled, regardless of whether the injury case goes to court or not. Insurance company claims adjusters are always quick to attempt influencing the final determination of the plaintiff’s personal contribution to an accident because they can lessen the value of a claim with this tactic. This is especially true when a big-rig has been involved in a collision because the driver and the shipping company could both well be at fault, along with any other commercial entity connected to cargo a driver may be hauling.
All traffic accidents that happen on state highways are investigated by local police officers or state patrol personnel. The jurisdictional court system will use the official accident reconstruction report in determining the outcome of the case. The reconstruction report will indicate what actually happened and who was largely at fault for causing the collision, which is often shared fault that insurance companies will use when negotiating injury claim settlements. An experienced and aggressive accident attorney will understand when the insurance company or commercial carrier is trying to influence the final report and question the report as well. All drivers are given a comparative negligence percentage by a jury if the case goes to a trial, but insurance companies still use comparative negligence percentage speculation as bargaining leverage in negotiating a settlement.
Discounting Injury Claims
Most passengers in a vehicle are not assessed for personal contribution in causing an accident, so these injured claimants are typically eligible for whole benefits when there is sufficient insurance coverage or the respondent has attachable assets, such as a commercial entity. Drivers who are injured have the total amount of their claim benefits reduced by their comparative negligence percentage. The state of Arizona uses pure comparative negligence law, so the only drivers barred from damage recovery are those who are totally at fault for a crash, which is normally applied to intentional actions that cause injury. Punitive damages awarded by a jury in a gross negligence case are not discounted by personal contribution, but state courts can still limit the damages in some instances.