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Understanding Liability Laws in Alaska

On behalf of Law Office of Jason Skala, LLC June 24, 2019

Most of us don’t think much about how the civil justice system works until we need to use it. For instance, have you considered how financial damages are awarded in a personal injury lawsuit?

That’s what we’ll discuss in today’s post. Specifically, we’ll talk about Alaska’s negligence law, which helps assign liability for an accident or injury. We’ll use the example of car accidents, since that is one of the most common reasons for a personal injury lawsuit.

Car accidents can have numerous causes and contributing factors. And even if you are the victim of the accident, you may have been partially at fault for your own injuries. Perhaps you were struck by a distracted driver but you weren’t wearing a seatbelt at the time. Because of this, your injuries were more severe than they would have been in you had buckled up.

In some states, being even the tiniest bit at fault for your own injuries prevents you from suing another driver, even if that driver was primarily at fault. Thankfully, that’s not the case in Alaska. We use a legal standard known as “pure comparative negligence.”

Under the pure comparative negligence standard, you can recover damages from the other driver even if you were partially at fault for the crash. The jury would assign a percentage of fault to you and the other driver, and the damages you were seeking would be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you.

Let’s say, for instance, that your failure to wear a seatbelt meant that you were 20 percent at fault for your injuries. If you sued the other driver for $100,000, you could collect 80 percent of that total, which would be $80,000.

What makes Alaska’s law especially interesting is that you could technically file a lawsuit against the other driver even if you were primarily at fault for your injuries (90 percent, for example). In many states with a comparative negligence rule, you can only sue the other driver if you are less than 50 percent at fault.

If you have been seriously injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, it’s a good idea to understand all of your legal options. Now that you know more about Alaska’s liability laws, you may want to speak to a personal injury attorney to get more case-specific advice.