When it comes to common questions among Rhode Island car accident victims, one of the frequently asked questions involves whether an accident victim who shares responsibility for causing a car accident can still recover for their injuries from other at-fault drivers. The answer is laid out in the state’s comparative fault statute, located in Rhode Island General Laws section 9-20-4.
Under Rhode Island’s comparative fault statute, any injured driver, regardless of their role in causing the accident, can file a claim against any other party they believe caused or contribute to the accident. However, this does not mean that the at-fault party will be held completely liable for all of an accident victim’s damages. Section 9-20-4 provides that an injury victims’ “damages shall be diminished by the finder of fact in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the person injured.”
In plain English, this means that an accident victim’s total recovery amount will be reduced by their own percentage of fault. For example, suppose you were injured in a Rhode Island car accident and that you sustained $300,000 in damages. If, after a trial, the jury found that you were 30 percent responsible for causing the collision, you would recover a total of $210,000. This figure represents your total damages, less 30 percent, or your own percentage of responsibility.
While Rhode Island’s comparative fault law is one of the most plaintiff-friendly laws in the country, that does not mean that car accident cases are easy to prove, or that accident victims should proceed with a claim on their own. There are a few reasons for this.
When it comes to car insurance, Rhode Island is a “fault-based” state. Thus, to recover compensation after an accident, you must file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The insurance company will then either approve your claim and offer a settlement, or deny it. If the insurance company denies a claim, you will need to file a personal injury lawsuit, asking the court to compel the insurance company to compensate you for your injuries.
However, even if the insurance company approves your claim, the offer they make you may not be enough to fully and fairly compensate you for all of your damages. The insurance company may argue that you share blame for the accident, or claim that your injuries were preexisting or less severe than you claim. This can result in a back-and-forth negotiation with the insurance company, which does not always play out in your favor.
Rather than take on the insurance company alone, you can also work with an experienced Rhode Island personal injury attorney who will handle all aspects of your case.
Contact the Dedicated Injury Lawyers at Tapalian Law
If you’ve been injured in a Rhode Island car accident, give the attorneys at Tapalian Law a call. We represent clients who were injured in all types of motor vehicle accidents, working to secure the compensation they need and deserve. We have a reputation for aggressively standing up for our clients’ rights, and have the results to show for it. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Rhode Island personal injury lawyers, call 401-552-5000 to schedule a free consultation today. You can also connect with us through our online form. We also provide services at our satellite location in Fort Lauderdale.