Can I Recover Damages For a Rhode Island Car Crash if I Was Partially At-Fault?

Legal Representation for Car Accident Victims in MA & RI

One of the core questions in any lawsuit filed after an auto accident in Rhode Island, or elsewhere, is who was at-fault? In some situations, it may be abundantly straightforward. Multiple witnesses, for example, may have seen one driver run a red light. In many other cases, however, the answer may not be crystal clear. At the time of the accident, the driver in one vehicle may have been glancing down at his smartphone to read a text message, but the other driver involved may also have been speeding. In a Rhode Island auto accident, can you still recover if you were partially at-fault? The answer is a qualified, “Yes.”

Rhode Island Uses Pure Comparative Negligence Rule

Since 1971, Rhode Island has utilized a “pure” comparative negligence rule, at R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-20-4, to allocate fault between various parties in a dispute over an auto accident. This rule is perhaps best understood through the following example:

Hypothetical Two-Car Wreck

Driver A and Driver B are involved in a two-car collision in which both vehicles sustain extensive property damage, and Driver A sustains serious personal injuries. While Driver B is not hurt, Driver A is hospitalized for a period of time, misses work, and has to endure a painful recovery period. Driver A files a lawsuit against Driver B, contending that B was negligent in causing the accident and that B is, therefore, liable to pay for A’s damages.

Driver B responds that Driver A was negligent in causing the accident.

Trial Court Determines Levels of Fault

The trial court determines that both Driver A and Driver B were negligent. In a few states that still follow the old contributory negligence rule, this would be the end of the dispute; neither party could recover anything. In Rhode Island, however, the result is different. The court compares the respective levels of fault between Driver A and B.

If we assume that the court determined that Driver A was 25 percent at fault and Driver B was 75 percent at fault, then Driver A would recover his or her total damages less 25 percent, or 75 percent of his or her total damages (property damage + personal injury damages). For example, if the court said that the measure of A’s damages was a total of $100,000, then A would recover $75,000 ($100,000 less 25 percent).

Pure Comparative Negligence Rule

One more thing: In Rhode Island, a pure comparative negligence state, even if Driver A was determined to be 90 percent at fault, Driver A could still recover 10 percent of the total value of his injuries from B.

Have You Been in a Motor Vehicle Accident?

Have you or a loved one been injured in an auto accident? Have you been concerned that the other party may say that you were partly to blame? As shown above, being partially to blame will not bar you from recovering at least part of your damages. In these sorts of legal disputes, experienced legal counsel generally makes the difference. If you have been hurt, know that the injury lawyers at the Bottaro Law Firm, LLC have the resources to investigate the accident and fight to protect your legal rights. You deserve skillful, energetic, and aggressive attorneys to help you prepare your case. We will pursue your case at no cost until we win. Remember that delay can harm your case. Our experienced legal team is available 24/7 for a free consultation. Give us a call at 866-529-9700, or complete our convenient online contact form.