When you’re in a car wreck, it can take only seconds for your entire life to be flipped upside down because of your injuries – and only a few seconds longer for the accusations from the other driver to start flying.
Even if you think the wreck and your injuries were clearly caused by the other driver’s mistake, the other driver (and their insurer) may not see things the same way. That’s when the doctrine of comparative negligence or fault can come into play.
This can reduce or negate your claim
Every state tries to find a way to allocate blame for a car wreck fairly, especially when everybody involved may have made mistakes.
Because Minnesota takes a modified comparative negligence approach, an injured party can still collect damages so long as they are not at 51% or more at fault for the crash. However, any fault that is apportioned your way will serve to reduce any compensation you might otherwise be due.
For example, imagine that you were seriously hurt in a wreck with a driver who ran a red light and t-boned you. Your injuries are, without question, worth $100,000. Unfortunately, the other driver claims that you were at least partially responsible for your own injuries because you’d forgotten to wear your seatbelt. If the court agrees and assigns you 25% of the fault for your injuries, you would only be entitled to 75% of the compensation you’d normally receive – or $75,000.
This is why it’s so important to both understand the way that fault is allocated in a car wreck claim – and why it’s even more important to realize that you can put your claim in danger simply by saying the wrong thing. It’s always wisest to wait until you have some experienced legal guidance before you talk to the other party’s insurance company about what happened.