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“Can I recover compensation for an injury even if I was partly at fault?”

I’m Katelyn Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss topics related to personal injury law.

Today’s question comes from a caller who asks: “Can I recover compensation for an injury even if I was partly at fault for it happening?”

The answer is yes, but only as long as you are not more than 50% at fault.

Many times, a motor vehicle crash or other injury incident occurs because of a number of reasons, as opposed to a single reason. Injuries can happen due to shared fault on the part of the several parties involved in the incident, including the person who winds up injured.

If you’re concerned that you cannot be compensated for your injury because you might share some fault for the injury incident, then you need to call an attorney to discuss the matter in detail. Things may not be as cut and dry as you think. Meeting with an attorney and discussing exactly what happened may reveal that, although you may have been partly at fault for your injury occurring, your percentage of fault is not substantial to block legal avenues for compensation for your injury.

Here’s the way the law in Indiana works: if you are mostly at fault, meaning over 50% at fault, then Indiana law says you can’t receive compensation for your injury.

But, that means that you have to be proven by the other party to be mostly at fault. The other party has the burden of proving you share fault. And a lot goes into proving that. What if the other party doesn’t have evidence of your fault, or maybe they don’t even think you share fault.

You might think on the surface that it’s easy to prove who’s at fault for a crash, but a lot of times evidence cuts both ways.

If the other party is mostly at fault, but you are somewhat at fault, you can recover, but you only can recover for the percentage of fault that the other party is found to have contributed to cause the crash or other injury incident.

For example if the other party is 52% at fault, and a jury awards $100,000 in damages, you only recover $52,000.

Let’s say that two cars crash in an intersection where the traffic lights are out because of a power outage. In that situation both cars are supposed to stop and treat the intersection as a four-way stop.

But what if the evidence is that the light went out only seconds before the crash. In that situation, one side of the intersection was looking at a red light, and the other side was seeing a green or a yellow.

Suppose further that your light was green when you last looked up a split second before the crash, and that when you looked back at the road you were never even aware that the power went out before you felt the impact.

Under such a scenario, a jury might well see the other party as mostly responsible for the crash.

There are a whole lot of different scenarios that could be imagined. The bottom line is you need to have an experienced attorney help you sort things out. Until you speak with an attorney you should not assume that your situation is hopeless, even if you think you might be partly at fault.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you have questions about your legal rights if you get hurt due to the carelessness of another person, or as a result of substandard medical care, or due to a product defect, construction injury, or any other type of personal injury, please give us a call at (219) 736-9700. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at www.DavidHolubLaw.com – while there make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth”.