Can Comparative Negligence Reduce My Claim?

If you have been injured by another party’s negligence, it is only right that you receive compensation from that person or entity to pay for your damages.  You may have medical bills, legal bills, and increased living expenses that quickly add up.  Many victims file personal injury lawsuits against the person, company or agency responsible for their injuries.  However, in some cases, the defendant tries to show that the victim was also at fault–at least partially.  Those cases are what are known as “comparative negligence” cases, and they can result in a reduction of the amount the victim can recover.  In some cases, the victim in a comparative negligence case may recover nothing at all.

How Comparative Negligence Works

Comparative negligence is a legal doctrine that Alaska courts follow.  Under the comparative negligence statute §09.17.010, the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit may allege that the victim also contributed to the accident and his or her own injuries.  If the court finds this to be the case, the award may be reduced proportionally based on the victim’s perceived liability.

For example, if a victim is warned against entering a particular area in a store that is under construction, and knowingly ignores this warning, then becomes injured, the court may find that the victim has some liability in his own accident.  Similarly, a driver who is speeding when a crash occurs may be deemed to have contributed to the outcome of the crash, and his or her judgment may be reduced.

In many cases, courts ascribe a percentage of fault to each party.  If the victim would have been awarded $100,000 but is determined to have had 20 percent fault in the accident, that award would be reduced by $20,000.  The victim would then receive $80,000.  If the fault assigned to the victim was 50 percent, the victim would theoretically receive half of the award; however, if the liability is deemed to be 50 percent, the court may opt to judge that, since both parties were equally at fault, no award should be made.

How Can Comparative Negligence Impact My Personal Injury Claim?

Ultimately, comparative negligence harms the victim of a personal injury suit in that it reduces the amount of compensation he or she can receive.  It is very important to show that the victim was not at fault for the injuries so that a full amount can be awarded.  Even in cases where this is not possible, it is important to minimize the victim’s liability for the accident.  Otherwise, the victim stands the risk of not having the money available to pay for expenses.

At Barber & Associates, we have been helping Alaska injury victims receive the maximum amount of compensation possible for decades.  Our experience can be put to work to help you ensure you receive the full amount to which you are entitled.  Give us a call today to start working on protecting yourself and finding justice for your injuries.

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