You’re driving home after a long day, and distractions fill your head. Thoughts of your day at work, your plans for tonight and the weekend to come all occupy your mind. Amidst these distractions, you forgot to put on your seatbelt before driving.
Suddenly, another driver runs a red light. The ensuing crash leaves you with catastrophic injuries. But you were the one who didn’t buckle up, so whose fault is it? Are you on the hook for whatever consequences come from your unsafe decision?
Proving negligence is the goal
In most personal injury lawsuits, the goal is to prove who was negligent. There are a few questions that can help you determine whether the other driver was negligent:
- Was the other driver required to keep things safe?
- Did the other driver fail to fulfill this requirement?
- Did you get injured?
- Was the injury caused by the other driver’s failure to keep things safe?
Things get more complicated when you also played a part in the situation being unsafe. Luckily, Alaska’s comparative negligence law covers this gray area.
How comparative negligence works
Under Alaska law, you can seek compensation even if you were partially at fault. The jury decides what percentage of the accident was your fault and what percentage was the other driver’s. The court then awards and splits the damages based on those percentages.
For example, you could be found to be 40 percent responsible for your accident because you didn’t have a seatbelt on. If you had not been at fault at all, the court might have decided that the other driver should pay you $100,000 in damages. However, with this breakdown of shared fault, the driver will only have to pay you 60 percent of that—or $60,000. Even if the jury finds you to be 95 percent responsible, you could still receive compensation for the remaining 5 percent.
Playing a contributing role in an accident doesn’t automatically bar you from compensation for your injuries. An experienced personal injury lawyer can still help you get the support you deserve.