Recovering compensation after a car accident in the DMV requires a great deal of effort and information. You need proof of fault, and it is best to collect that immediately after an accident, which is one reason it is a good idea to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
But what if the evidence of fault indicates that some of the blame rests on you? Can you still recover? While this makes recovery even more difficult, it can be possible in some cases, so prompt legal advice is crucial.
Is Fault the Same Thing as Negligence?
Laws in the DMV generally allow accident victims to recover compensation from someone when that person’s negligence causes them to suffer demonstrable harm. Negligence is not always what we think of as fault. Negligence involves:
- Having a duty to act a certain way towards someone
- Failing to live up to that duty
- The failure to fulfill duty causes harm that can be proven
People have duties that they often don’t think about. Drivers owe a duty to drive at a safe speed and watch the road, but those are just two of many duties. Often, many people will neglect certain duties, and the combination of factors is what leads to the accident. The challenge is proving which violations of duty actually led to the injuries.
The Contributory Negligence Rule
DC, Maryland, and Virginia still currently use an old rule referred to as the contributory negligence rule. Under this doctrine, if an accident victim is proven to be negligent even in a small way, and that negligence contributed to their harm, then they cannot recover compensation from others who were at fault. This can be a very harsh rule, but a skilled attorney may be able to demonstrate that the victim’s alleged negligence was really not negligence at all.
The Last Clear Chance Doctrine
The silver lining to the contributory negligence rule is the last clear chance rule. If an accident victim is shown to be negligent, but another person involved still had a chance to avoid the injury and they failed to take that opportunity, then the victim could still potentially recover.
For instance, if a driver was late signaling a turn and was hit while making the turn, the late turn signal was a mistake that could be considered negligence. However, if the driver who hit the turning car saw that car and had plenty of time to stop but did not notice because they were changing the music on their phone, then that driver had the last clear chance to avoid the accident. That driver could potentially be found liable for negligence, allowing the driver who was hit to recover.
Work with an Experienced Car Accident Attorney for Help with Fault Issues
The bottom line is that negligence law is complicated. The more evidence you can collect to show the causes leading up to the accident, the more opportunities your attorney will have to make arguments in favor of your recovery.
For your own protection, it is wise to consult an experienced attorney for advice as soon as possible after any type of accident. To talk to a dedicated legal advisor at Johnnie Bond Law and learn more about your options, contact us now.