Shared Fault in Utah Injury Cases Explained
Shared Blame: Comparative and Contributory Fault for Accidents
What happens when multiple parties are at fault for causing injuries? For injury lawyers in Utah, many cases hinge on a single question: who is truly responsible for the accident and the resulting injuries?
Fault in Legal Terms
In legal terms, fault is a heavily loaded word. In basic terms, it refers to the person responsible for causing harm through carelessness or negligence.
What if Multiple Parties are at Fault?
At times, there isn’t just a single person at fault. All parties could be deemed negligent. So which of these parties will be considered at fault? What happens in this tricky scenario is vital to the outcome of your case.
Comparative vs. Contributory Fault Laws
For shared fault scenarios that result in a personal injury court case, each state has their own variation of contributory negligence or comparative negligence rules.
Contributory negligence states that if you contribute, in any way, to your own injury, then you holding another person responsible is not an option. Even if you are as little as 1% responsible for the incident, in a pure contributory negligence system, you are disqualified from collecting any type of compensation from the other person who is at fault the other 99%. Essentially, if it is determined that you are even slightly responsible, you will not be entitled to any compensation.
Under the comparative negligence rule, early assessment of the case examines the amount of fault of all parties involved.
For example, one driver runs the red light while another makes an early left turn. Both drivers are negligent. The judge will decide how much the drivers are responsible. The judge may decide that the driver who runs a red light is the primary fault holder and the other driver just contributed a little bit. The driver running the red light could be found to be at fault for 60% of the accident, while the driver who made the illegal turn is only considered 40% responsible.
In Utah, if multiple parties are responsible, the comparative fault rule is followed. That said, if you, as the filer, are found to be over 50% responsible for the accident, then you are unable to collect compensation. For those filing a case who are deemed under 50% responsible for the accident, the damages awarded depend on the percentage you are found at fault.