The basic idea behind a personal injury lawsuit based on negligence is that a person who is injured in an accident caused by another person’s carelessness should be compensated for their losses, and the careless person should be held accountable for their carelessness. As lawyers put it, the negligent party should be held liable for the injured party’s damages, which can include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and more..
But what if both parties bear some responsibility for the damages? Can an injured person recover compensation if their own negligence contributed to their damages?
To answer these questions, Kentucky law follows a legal theory known as pure comparative fault. Essentially, this theory holds that a person’s recovery is reduced in proportion to their fault. If the injured party was 25% at fault, they can recover 75% of their damages. In theory, a person can be as much as 99% at fault and still recover compensation, but would be able to recover only 1% of their damages.
To illustrate this concept, imagine a case where Donald and Mickey get into a car accident. Donald is badly injured and suffers $100,000 in damages. He files a personal injury lawsuit against Mickey, claiming that Mickey caused the accident by speeding.
The court reviews the facts of the case and agrees that Mickey did drive recklessly, but also finds that Donald contributed to the accident by failing to use his headlights on a rainy day. The court assigns a percentage of fault to each party and determines that Mickey was 75% at fault, and Donald was 25% at fault. Since Donald was 25% at fault, his recovery is reduced by 25%. Instead of recovering $100,000 in damages, Donald can recover, at most, $75,000.
These cases can be highly complex, and sometimes difficult to win. However, the losses people suffer in the aftermath of a car accident affect their whole families for the rest of their lives. It is important for the injured and their families to investigate all their legal options for recovering compensation.