The court system works hard to clearly identify the true cause of an accident to place responsibility on the right party. Sometimes, the fault assignment process is complicated by mitigating factors due to a number of coinciding events or actions leading up to the car accident. In the court system's eyes, without those factors present, the collision may never have occurred. When weighing the options, court officials can decide to place blame on a single party, share it as a percentage between all involved parties or deem the cause as undetermined. Here are a few factors that often result in the shared blame designation even when the other party carries the brunt of the responsibility.
Traveling well above the marked speed limit, or too fast for weather conditions, dramatically decreases your ability to slow down fast enough to prevent a collision. In fact, speed is listed as one of the main causes of 31% of all collisions that result in at least one fatality. Higher speeds often correlate with increased injury severity for all involved parties. Therefore, if court officials determine you were traveling too fast right before the collision occurred, you will likely need to accept a shared fault ruling.
Even if you do not directly cause the accident at hand, court officials will hold any signs of impairment against you during the ruling process. Impairment from drugs, alcohol or known health conditions inhibits your ability to avoid dangerous situations or actions leading up to the accident. As a result, you may miss cues to slow down or swerve out of the way to prevent the collision. Total fault cannot be placed on the other driver, despite negligent actions, if you did not do all you could to prevent the accident from happening. In addition to sharing fault for the accident, in certain jurisdictions, you may end up with criminal charges for driving while impaired.
If you were temporarily distracted, or otherwise not paying attention, when the accident occurred, it's likely you will end up sharing the fault designation with the other parties. In controlled studies, driver inattention contributed to more accidents than both speed and impairment did. Drivers must stay on their toes at all times by scanning well ahead to spot iffy situations that could lead to an accident. Drivers are encouraged to slow down when approaching drivers piloting their vehicle erratically or poorly. If you are looking elsewhere while driving, you may miss the signs of a problem on the roadway until it's too late to complete defensive maneuvers.
You must prove you were following all rules of the road when the accident occurred to escape fault assignment. Court officials will compare your actions to the roadway markings, signage and local laws to see if you completed any maneuvers that contributed to the accident. If you made an improper turn or failed to heed warning signs, officials may assign partial blame to you if the other party also made driving mistakes.
Your car accident lawyer will work hard to rule out all of the above factors to prevent partial fault assignment by the courts. If you cannot escape that designation, your lawyer will attempt to minimize the impact the ruling has on your given compensation package.
With shared fault, your compensation package may suffer a hit depending on how much the court system felt your actions contributed to the collision occurring. Court officials will usually assign a percentage to each party to clearly outline how each party's actions contributed. The fault percentage is then used to reduce the compensation package an appropriate amount. Lawyers can argue mitigating factors in an effort to buffer the reduction and win you a larger reward. For more information, contact an experienced car crash attorney.