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What does contributory negligence mean after a car crash?

On Behalf of | Jun 25, 2021 | Auto Accidents

Colorado, like most states, has rules about who is responsible after a car crashed. Liability typically falls to the individual cited as at fault for the collision by the police officer who responded to the crash.  

The other people hurt or dealing with property damage because of the crash can file an insurance claim.  The policy held by the driver at fault for the crash will pay for their losses. Unfortunately, sometimes that driver doesn’t have insurance or their policy doesn’t cover all of someone’s losses.  

In these situations, those coping with property damage and injuries may need to file a civil lawsuit against the other driver. In some cases, contributory negligence can impact the conversation someone receives. 

Did you make a mistake at the wheel?  

Determining the fault for car crashes isn’t always straightforward. Maybe the driver that hit you was drunk, but you forgot to use your turn signal. Little mistakes can contribute to the outcome of the situation.   

If you played a minor role in causing the crash, that won’t impact your right to file an insurance claim. The policy for the person at fault will still have to pay for your injuries and property damage losses.  However, your minor mistake could affect how much compensation you receive in a civil lawsuit.  

If the other party responds to your lawsuit by alleging that you had contributory negligence, that might diminish how much compensation you receive. Contributory negligence would be your personal contribution to the crash, even if your mistake was obviously far smaller than the mistake made by the other driver. The courts will review the crash information and establish comparative negligence. Essentially, they will assign each of you a percentage of fault for the crash.  

How comparative negligence affect your compensation 

Provided that you are less responsible for the crash than the other party, a finding of contributory negligence and an allocation of a lower percentage of comparative negligence than theirs will not stop you from receiving compensation. Still, the courts will reduce the amount they award you by the percentage of false they assign.  

 Understanding that you can still take action even if you played a minor role in the crash can help you advocate for yourself after a collision.