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In a Car Accident, Am I Entitled to Damages If I Was Also At Fault?

In Colorado, if you’re involved in a car accident — or any accident, really — due to the fault of another, then you might be able to obtain compensation for your injuries.  Most people (even those unfamiliar with the letter of the law) are aware that their injuries may entitle them to damages in a lawsuit.  What often leads to confusion, however, are accident situations in which fault is split between multiple parties, including the injured plaintiff.

If you were injured in a car accident, but you were at fault, too, are you entitled to recover damages?  Our Denver accident attorney says: it depends.

Let’s take a look at how it works in Colorado.

Comparative Fault in Colorado

The state of Colorado applies modified comparative fault to injury claims.  Other states apply pure comparative fault, and others, still, apply contributory negligence.

What are these systems, and what makes modified comparative fault unique? Our Denver accident attorney explains.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence bars a plaintiff from recovering damages if they are at-fault for their own injuries, even to a minor degree — if the court finds that the plaintiff was just 1 percent responsible, the plaintiff will be barred from recovery.  This is an extremely strict standard.

Pure Comparative Fault

Pure comparative fault assigns a percentage of the total fault to each party involved in an accident.  Under pure comparative fault, the plaintiff is entitled to recover damages, even when they are significantly at-fault.  A plaintiff could be 99 percent responsible and still recover.  Our Denver accident attorney notes that this is an extremely loose standard.

Modified Comparative Fault

Under modified comparative fault, the plaintiff is entitled to recover damages, even when they are significantly at-fault, so long as their contribution is not 50 percent or more.  If a plaintiff is deemed to have been 50 percent or more responsible for their injuries, he or she will be barred from recovery.

Modified comparative fault is therefore something of a compromise between contributory negligence and pure comparative fault.  Without any context, however, it can be difficult to understand how modified comparative fault plays out in real-world terms.  Consider the following.

Suppose that you are injured in a head-on collision with another car.  At the time of the accident, however, you were not wearing a seatbelt — as a result, your body slammed into the windshield, causing severe head and neck trauma.  After presentation of the evidence, the court determines that you (the injured plaintiff) were 51 percent at fault for your injuries.  Under Colorado modified comparative fault, you would be barred from recovery.

Now, suppose that you are injured in a relatively low speed rear-end collision.  You suffer injuries to your neck and back.  In this accident, you also did not wear a seatbelt.  Though your failure to wear a seatbelt constituted negligence, your contribution of fault was not as significant given that your injuries would not have been significantly less severe had you been wearing the seatbelt.  The court determines that you were 25 percent at fault for your injuries.  Under Colorado modified comparative fault, you would still be permitted to recover damages — your overall damage recovery would simply be reduced by 25 percent, accordingly.

Have Your Claims Assessed During a Free Consultation With a Skilled Denver Accident Attorney

If you have been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation — even if you contributed significantly to your own injuries.  To setup a free consultation with an experienced Denver accident attorney, contact Levine Law.

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