Getting in a car accident is bad enough. Getting in one that wasn’t your fault and causes damage to your car is much worse, as a car accident lawyer Boyton Beach FL trusts knows all too well. Based on the conventional wisdom, the person who caused the harm should pay for that harm. In the world of car accidents, the question of who pays becomes a lot more complex.
The usual answer is that the insurance company of the driver that caused the accident will be on the hook for the damages to the car of the person who was hit. This is a perfect world scenario in which one party is 100 percent at fault, and that party is adequately insured meaning they have enough coverage to be able to pay completely for the damage to the other person’s vehicle. Moreover, their insurance company recognizes their fault and pays adequately and on time. There are a small percentage of U.S. states that follow a no-fault rule, meaning that regardless of who was at fault, each driver pays their own damages.
But what if the other driver doesn’t have insurance? This is a pernicious problem and while many states make it a crime to drive without insurance punishable by revocation of licensing privileges, among other things, there are still approximately 1 in 8 drivers who are on the road without insurance. Unfortunately, in this case, the problem then becomes one solely for your insurance company and is why many drivers with insurance also choose to have uninsured, underinsured coverage for themselves. This coverage applies to this situation and would cover the damages to your car.
In another scenario, what if you are not 100 percent blameless? It depends on the state. In states that follow a pure contributory negligence standard, any amount of contributory negligence – that is any amount of fault that the person who was hit has in the accident – will negate any right to damages that person may have from the other party. Even a fault of one percent will deny any recovery. This means that the driver would be on the hook for their own damages.
Other states follow the pure comparative negligence standard in which recovery is reduced by the percentage amount of fault of the driver. So, if a driver who was rear-ended was found to be five percent at fault, that five percent would be deducted from their award.
Still other states follow a modified comparative negligence standard based on a threshold amount of negligence, either 50 or 51 percent depending upon the state. If a driver is found to be 45 percent negligent in causing an accident, that person could still get 55 percent of their damages. The person found to be 55 percent negligent would get nothing since their negligence was over the 50 or 51 percent threshold.
How do you best protect yourself and your property in this kind of situation? Ideally, you get and maintain adequate insurance coverage so that no matter what happens or what state you’re in, you have at least some cushion for the blow.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Office of Eric H. Luckman P.C. for their insight into personal injury and car accident cases.