What if I Am Partially at Fault for a Car Accident?

If you are partially at fault for a car accident, comparative negligence laws will come into play. The accident will be assessed, and a percentage of fault will be assigned to each driver. Your recoverable damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you.

A car accident lawyer can use their knowledge and resources to defend you against insurance adjusters or a civil court claim. A car accident lawyer will fight for you, so you’re not assigned an unfair percentage of fault for the collision. They will demonstrate fault using the evidence they collect, and they will fight for compensation that is appropriate for your losses.

How Fault Is Determined in Car Accident Cases

When either driver in a car accident pursues the other for damages, they must prove the negligence that led to the accident. The legally required elements of negligence include:

  • Duty of care. All drivers owe other motorists and pedestrians a duty of care to follow traffic laws and behave responsibly behind the wheel.
  • Breach of duty. Breaking the law or acting recklessly breaches the duty of care we have toward others.
  • Causation. Negligent behavior can result in accidents.
  • Damages. Accidents cause injuries and other losses.

Negligence is proven with physical evidence, paperwork, and witness statements. Physical evidence can include damage to both vehicles and debris from the accident scene, as well as your torn or damaged clothing and personal items. Your attorneys will also collect the police report, photos, and videos of the accident.

Most car accident cases are settled out of court based on the weight of the collected evidence. Your personal injury lawyers will handle evidence collection and settlement negotiations for you.

How Each Driver’s Degree of Fault Is Measured

In your car accident case, fault is assigned in percentages. Each driver’s actions will be evaluated based on the evidence. The lawyer who represents you can fight to ensure your role is not unfairly assessed.

You Might Still Be Entitled to Some Financial Recovery

Contributing in part to a car accident does not prohibit you from recovering damages unless more than half of the fault is yours. Any financial award you do receive will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you.


  • If you would have received $200,000 and 25% of the fault was yours, your final award would be $150,000
  • If you would have received $200,000 and 40% of the fault was yours, your final award would be $120,000
  • If more than half of the cause of the accident was yours, you will not recover any damages at all

The reduction to your financial award can be significant, making it important that contributory negligence is accurately attributed.

How the Statute of Limitations Affects Your Case

All civil lawsuits are required to respect the statute of limitations. While mandatory, it can also be confusing and can change based on your circumstances. One way to meet the filing deadline in your case is to let your lawyer assess it for you. They can ensure its interpretation is accurate and help you avoid the consequences of filing too late.

Damages You Can Recover from the At-Fault Party

The damages you can obtain will be reduced according to the percentage of your liability. You can still request financial recovery for the same economic and non-economic damages. These include:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Property damage or total loss
  • Ongoing pain and suffering
  • Mental and emotional distress

The lawyer who handles your case will use this evidence to fight for financial recovery that accurately represents your losses.

The Benefits of Working With a Personal Injury Lawyer

It can be tempting to deal with the other driver’s insurance company on your own. However, hiring a personal injury lawyer has its benefits. While you concentrate on getting better, your lawyer can:

  • Handle the complexities of the negotiation process
  • Accurately demonstrate your degree of liability for the collision
  • Weigh the merits of each settlement offer you receive
  • Fight for the best possible financial outcome for you

You can help your lawyer — and your case — by providing them with an accurate account of the accident. Avoid speaking to anyone other than your legal team about what happened, unless you’ve received legal counsel. This includes speaking to the other driver’s insurance company and posting photos or comments about the accident on social media outlets.

Get Help from Our Car Accident Team Today

You could be entitled to financial recovery after a car accident even if you were partially at fault. Our car accident lawyer will investigate the accident and use the evidence we gather to make sure you’re not assigned an undue percentage of fault.

Learn more about comparative fault and its role in your accident. Contact one of our D. Miller & Associates, PLLC® team members for your free case evaluation today.