Comparative fault – seeking damages when you’re partly responsible for a wreck

Missouri, along with 12 other states, recognizes what’s known as the Pure Comparative Fault Rule.

This allows a damaged party to recover even if he/she is 99 percent at fault, although the recovery is reduced by the damaged party’s degree of fault.

An easy way to look at comparative fault is to imagine a car wreck, with one driver running a red light and a second driver speeding. Each driver contributed to the accident. In court, a jury or judge would determine how much fault each driver has in the crash.

If the person who ran the light is primarily responsible, he or she might be 65% at fault; the second driver would then shoulder 35% of the fault. Each party would then collect damages equal to their percent of fault. For example, if the first driver who ran the light had $55,000 in damages, he or she would collect 35%, or $19,250. If the second driver (speeding), also had $55,000 in damages, he or she would collect $35,750 (65%) from the first driver, who was held primarily responsible.

In contrast, Contributory Negligence – used in a handful of states – essentially holds that if you contribute to your own injury, you can’t hold anyone else responsible for it. In that situation, neither driver would collect damages.

If you have been in an accident, and would like more information about your options, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re always happy to provide a free case evaluation.