What Happens When Fault Is Not Clear?

Sometimes one person gets injured because 2 parties have been negligent. Sometimes one of those 2 parties was the person that has suffered the injury.

In such a case, the negligence gets apportioned

Each of the negligent parties gets assigned some percent of fault. That percent reflects the degree to which the given party’s conduct contributed towards the accident’s occurrence.

A personal injury lawyer in Ottawa might point to violation of one of a state’s traffic laws, and use that as justification for assigning a larger percentage of blame to the defendant, as opposed to the lawyer’s client (the plaintiff).

More on lawyer’s role, when negligence apportioned

The personal injury attorney advocates for assigning the client the lowest possible percentage of fault. The adjuster might not agree with the attorney’s proposal, regarding assigning the client an especially low percentage of fault. When that is the situation, then the case might go to court.

Factors considered if the question of fault/liability must be considered in a courtroom trial

Photographs of the damaged vehicles and of any injuries
Witness statements: written, or testimony during trial
Principle of negligence used in state where trial is held

– Could be principle of contributory negligence
– Might be principle of comparative negligence
– Could be modification of comparative principle

What piece of evidence would not be admissible, if the question of liability were decided in a courtroom trial?

In that situation neither side’s lawyer would have the right to introduce the findings in the police report. The judge would rule against the introduction of such information, due to the way that the police report gets made. The officer that arrives at the scene of an accident has not seen what happened. That officer simply records the story, as told by those that were involved. Because the officer did not see the accident, the officer’s report qualifies as hearsay.

In a court of law, judges are not supposed to allow the introduction of any hearsay. The jurors are meant to hear only 1st-person accounts of what took place at the time of the accident’s occurrence. That is why the police report could not be used as evidence. The elimination of the police report would not rule out usage of the other possible evidence. The jurors could see pictures of the damaged vehicles, or pictures of the plaintiff’s injuries. The jurors could hear the witnesses’ statements.

The judge would probably explain the state’s principles, regarding the effect of negligent action by 2 or more parties. After the jury had heard the judge’s explanation, then it would deliberate and decide how much blame should be placed on each party. That jury ruling could determine the apportionment of any court-ordered judgment.