Personal injury lawsuits that center on car accidents can be complex, with myriad factors contributing to liability and damages. And while most individuals involved in automobile accidents are quick to point out the fault of the other driver, every now and then you come across an accident where the driver at fault readily admits his own culpability.
If you have been involved in a car accident and the incident was not only clearly your fault, but you also openly admit it, it is still important to retain the services of a qualified personal injury lawyer. That fact that you have admitted fault regarding the collision does not entitle the other party to carte blanche in the court room. The following is a brief overview of some of the strategies your attorney can leverage to minimize the damages you pay in court.
The Theory Of Comparative Negligence
Even if you have openly admitted fault in a car accident, there are limits to the amounts that the plaintiff(s) may try to procure from you in court. One of the principle strategies an experienced personal injury attorney will employ to keep that amount low is in arguing for comparative negligence.
The theory of comparative negligence asserts that the total damages either party can collect are in direct proportion to the level of negligence that said individual exhibited in the collision. So, even if you thought you were 100% at fault, your attorney may be able to prove that you were only 50% at fault, or not at all.
Working together with investigators and law enforcement, your attorney can help demonstrate who was truly at fault in the incident, and to what extent. It may come to light that the plaintiff was 70% responsible for the accident, which means you will only need to pay for 30% of the damages from the collision.
The Assumption Of Risk
Another tactic astute attorneys can use to your advantage is arguing that the plaintiff exercised an assumption of risk that led to the collision. The premise of this argument rests on the notion that the individual seeking damages was at fault as a result of engaging in an activity that they knew was inherently dangerous.
If, for instance, you hit a man on his bicycle while driving on the freeway, your attorney might argue that the rider assumed the risks of vehicular collision when he or she took their bicycle out onto the freeway. Despite the fact that bicycles are prohibited on freeways, your attorney will argue that a reasonable person would understand that the risk of collision is very high when venturing onto a freeway with a bicycle.
Ultimately, even when you're at fault in an accident, there a number of important reasons you should enlist legal counsel from a professional like Dunnigan & Messier P.C. However, an attorney's ability to minimize the damages you owe by arguing the plaintiff was comparatively negligent and exercised an assumption of risk are two of the most important.