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How could your minor mistake impact post-crash compensation?

On Behalf of | Jun 22, 2020 | Auto Accidents

In many car crashes, it is painfully obvious that one driver is responsible. Examples include a scenario where traffic cameras show how one driver ran a red light and caused the collision. Other times, the situation may be more complex, with each driver playing a role that contributed to the collision.

If you know that not properly using your turn signal or exceeding the speed limit may have contributed to the circumstances of a crash, you might think that you don’t have any rights to compensation beyond what insurance will cover. However, under Colorado’s personal injury laws, even if you are partially responsible for a crash, you can still hold the other driver accountable for their portion of the fault.

The Colorado courts recognize contributory negligence

It is possible for more than one person to play a role in a situation that results in property damage or personal injuries. The legal concept of contributory negligence is exactly what it sounds like. It is a mistake on the part of one party that contributed to an unfavorable outcome.

Contributory negligence is not in the same thing as direct fault. A drunk driver running a red light is obviously responsible if they crash into your vehicle while you were making a turn. However, if you didn’t use your turn signal, that mistake may have contributed to the other driver’s bad decision to run the light.

While the other driver is at fault and you have a right to seek compensation for your injuries and losses, your contribution to the crash could impact the amount of compensation you get in a personal injury lawsuit.

How did the courts determine contributory negligence?

If you bring a personal injury action against the other driver who caused the crash and they claim contributory negligence, they will have to provide some evidence to the courts about the claim. Then, the courts will have to consider the circumstances and assign a percentage of fault to each of the parties involved.

Provided that your degree of contributory negligence is less than that of the other party, you still have the right to seek compensation. However, the courts will likely reduce the compensation by the amount of fault you carry.