Getting To Know Comparative Fault And The Types Of Damages

Posted on: 8 February 2016

If you were injured, either in an accident or intentionally, then you might be thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit. However, a lawsuit isn't always the right idea. An insurance claim might be able to get you the compensation that you need in a much more reliable manner. Lawsuits are a bit riskier, mainly because your entire case might be shut down by a single law that you might not have even been aware of. To help you decide whether a lawsuit is right for you, here is an explanation of two key legal concepts that you will need to be aware of: comparative fault and damage caps.

Comparative Fault

One of the biggest hurdles that you will encounter is comparative fault, which is a tool that is used to incorporate relative responsibility into court rulings. To be more blunt, it reduces your compensation proportional to the amount of responsibility that you held in the incident in question.

If the defense can prove that you were 30% responsible for your injury, then the court doesn't believe that they should be forced to pay 100% of the money that you are asking for. Instead, they will only need to pay 70%, to represent their share of the responsibility.

Some states can be stricter, with extra rules coming into play if you are found to bear more than half the responsibility. If that is the case, then you might forfeit the rights to any compensation at all. After all, if it was mostly your fault, then should anyone else be held responsible?

A select few states will actually dismiss your damages immediately if you are found to bear any responsibility in your accident. If you live in such a state, then you might want to think twice before filing a lawsuit. You might find that your lawsuit is dead in the water if the defense has evidence that can prove that you were even 1% responsible.

Damage Caps

You also want to think about the damage caps in your state, which will influence the amount of money that you can actually ask for. For the purposes of damage caps, there are basically 3 types of damages that you need to be aware of.

  1. First you have your basic economic compensatory damages, which covers medical bills, auto repair bills, lost wages, and other values that have a clear dollar value. Economic damages are almost never restricted, since they represent objective financial burdens.

  2. Non-economic compensatory damages are a little more complicated, since they cover pain and suffering. In other words, these damages can't really translate cleanly into an exact dollar amount. Many states do have damage caps on non-economic damages.

  3. Finally you have punitive damages, which are the most highly-restricted. Many states have explicit caps, but punitive damages have strict requirements even in states where they are uninhibited. In order to pursue punitive damages, you need to actually prove that the other party acted out of gross negligence. On top of that, punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant, rather than award the plaintiff. They are often only granted in cases where the jury has been sufficiently convinced that the defendant was extremely guilty of negligence.

Contact a lawyer, like Risley Law Firm, P.C., for more help.