Insurance companies seek to determine who should be blamed for a given car accident. How do they approach that particular task?
What gets examined by the insurer’s investigators?
• Physical evidence: skid marks, paint on vehicle, nature of damage, extent of damage.
• Witnesses’ statements
• Photographs and video footage from a dash cam
• Police report
• Report from an accident reconstructionist
• Each of the applicable laws
• The dollar amount of the claim
• Hospital documents, especially those that reveal the extent of the injuries.
• Plaintiff’s medical report
What might alter the determination of who to blame, following an assessment of the factors examined by the investigators?
That determination could be changed by the discovery of comparative or contributory negligence. Both of those terms refer to actions made by the plaintiff. Both terms indicate that those particular actions helped to cause the accident, or to exacerbate the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries.
For instance, it might be shown that the plaintiff drove through a red light before colliding with a pickup truck. Alternately, it might be shown that the plaintiff had failed to put on a seat belt, prior to a given accident’s occurrence.
Today, insurance companies often study the record of calls made on a cell phone, if the plaintiff had such a hand-held device in the involved vehicle. That record might show that the plaintiff was talking with someone on the cell phone, during the minutes that led up to the collision. That evidence would suggest that the plaintiff was distracted.
If an accident took place at night, then no determination of who to blame should overlook an examination of the functionality of the lights on all the involved vehicles. Maybe one automobile had only one functioning tail light. By the same token, a different vehicle might have lacked two working turn signals.
All of those factors could combine to hint at comparative or contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff. The Injury Lawyer in Kingston knows that the extent to which that could reduce the size of the plaintiff’s reward would depend on the location of the accident.
Some jurisdictions apply the standard of modified comparative negligence, in which the percent deducted corresponds with the percent of negligent behavior, as long as it did not exceed 50%. In other jurisdictions the plaintiff might not receive a single dime, if it he or she had been found guilty of contributory negligence.
The confusion created by those 2 terms arose from an attempt to modify the traditional version of comparative negligence. In that version, the plaintiff receives a part of any reward, regardless of how greatly he or she might have contributed to the accident. Hence, a plaintiff could get as little as 10% of the reward, under that system.