Determining Liability in Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury is one of the various fields of law that encompasses several different types of injuries, all arising from the negligence, carelessness, or wrongdoing of another. It may not seem so, but these incidents occur often, with the country listing a whopping 31 million people on average each year, who suffer injuries resulting from another party acting negligently, recklessly, and even maliciously.

Common Types of Personal Injury Cases 

In the US, and very likely in other countries as well, the most common cause of personal injuries is auto accidents. In fact, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that approximately 5 million car accidents happen in the country each year, with more than half of this number leading to serious injuries necessitating medical care.

 

Apart from motor vehicle accidents, another common cause of personal injury cases is workplace accidents, or such mishaps that occur while on the job and attributable to the performance of such job. Medical malpractice cases, another common type of personal injury case, pertain to injuries arising from a doctor’s negligence or the performance of inappropriate or inadequate medical treatment.

 

These are just some of the many types of personal injury cases. These occurrences are frequent, and this is why the law allows for compensation, by way of damages, in favor of an injured party. This does not only mitigate the difficulties experienced by him, but it also, in a way, helps curb the frequency of personal injury cases—if one does not want the hassle and the unforeseen expenses, they better act with care and due diligence.

An Overview of Personal Injury Case Liability

It must be noted that compensation in personal injury cases is not automatic. Of course, there is a need to determine the liability of the person or persons involved, to allow recovery on the part of the injured party. If it can be so proven that the cause of the injury is not the doing of the defendant (or the person whom the injured party is claiming against), then, the claim against them will not prosper.

 

In the US, the rules on determining liability vary from state to state, naturally because each state has its own set of laws. Some states do not allow recovery if found that the injured party is at fault, even though only minimal. In legal terms, this system is called the ‘contributory negligence’ fault system.

 

Meanwhile, some states reduce or completely prohibit recovery, based on the percentage of fault or negligence on the part of the injured party. These states are referred to as the ‘comparative negligence’ states.

The ‘Comparative Negligence’ System

In Missouri, we follow the comparative negligence system in determining liability. As discussed earlier, this means that even if there is negligence on the part of the plaintiff (or the injured party claiming damages), such does not automatically bar recovery. Unlike in ‘contributory negligence’ states where even the slightest trace of the negligence of the injured party would automatically reject the compensation claim, in Missouri, the claim is not rejected but merely reduced under the circumstances.

 

In particular, the Show-Me State uses a “pure comparative fault rule”, wherein the compensation the injured party can receive shall be reasonably reduced by an amount that is equal to his percentage of fault.

 

If you are a party claiming for a personal injury case, this system, most certainly, works to your advantage.

Comparative Negligence as Applied

To give you a clearer picture of how this whole concept works, let’s work with a more concrete example.

 

Suppose you are driving through one of Kansas City’s thoroughfares when another driver collides with the rear end of your car. At the time of the collision, you were turning right but failed to turn on your signal light. Thus, the driver of the vehicle that rear-ended your car was not at all anticipating that you were decreasing speed to make the turn, precisely because of the absence of any warning sign.

 

In this case, it is clear that you, for failing to turn on your signal light, are somewhat at fault for the mishap. It can be said that there is negligence on the part of both parties—negligence on your part for not using your signal light and negligence on the part of the other driver for not exercising due diligence, particularly by slowing down and maintaining a safe speed and distance on the road.

 

Hence, if eventually it is decided that your total damages are, let’s say, at $10,000, you will not be able to claim the total amount, but will still be able to claim nonetheless. Once your percentage of fault has been determined, it will then be used to fairly reduce the claim. In our example, if you were found to be 20 percent at fault, then the at-fault party will be enjoined to pay $10,000 less 20 percent, or $8,000.

 

This, basically, is how Missouri’s fault system works. Certainly, if you were involved in any kind of personal injury case, you would want to claim the highest amount possible if you are the plaintiff, or avoid paying for any claim if you are the defendant.

 

This is where the expertise of personal injury lawyers comes in.

 

If you are in Kansas City or any of its surrounding areas, Pospisil Swift is your best option for assistance in personal injury cases. Composed of proficient legal experts in the field of personal injury, Pospisil Swift is here to handle your case, whether you are looking to claim against another or are looking to minimize liability.

 

Contact us by giving us a call or sending us a message through our website.


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