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It’s well-known at this point that fault plays a huge role in establishing who pays in the event of an accident.
Complicating the assignment of fault are the various types of negligence that courts recognize. These vary from state to state and alter compensation and damages significantly.
- Pure Comparative Negligence – Also called ‘comparative fault’ allows an injured party to collect on a case in proportion to their percentage of blame. Twelve states hold this standard including New Mexico.
- Modified Comparative Negligence – AKA ‘modified comparative fault’ distributes damages according to the percentage of blame unless that percentage exceeds 50-51%. Thirty-three states hold this standard.
- Contributory Negligence – AKA ‘contributory fault’ asserts that only those parties without a single percent of blame collect in an accident. Five states hold this strict standard.
Being in New Mexico simplifies this process to an extent. As a pure comparative negligence state, a party pays for what share of the fault can be demonstrated. How, then, is this percent established?
How to know what % of fault you have in an accident
Degree of fault is assigned based on the conditions of the drivers, road conditions, vehicle conditions, and mitigating factors. These are established through accounts of witnesses, police reports, traffic conditions, medical findings, and more. The primary goal of a good injury attorney is to tell your story convincingly, thus preventing insurance companies or opposing parties from asserting that somehow you are to blame for some or all of the accident.
How do medical conditions affect fault?
A known medical condition creates a wrinkle when assigning fault. While a complication to the proceedings, it is not an impassible one. Unraveling this problem, a court looks at two factors: awareness and extent of impairment.
Most states limit driver’s licenses based on pre-existing and known medical conditions. Things such as ‘must drive with glasses’ is a common one for those who are otherwise legally blind.
If a person operates a vehicle with a known condition that can cause significant impairment to their driving, they have a duty to mitigate that condition. This includes using prescribed assistance devise such as glasses or prosthetics as well as taking medication for diabetes, epilepsy, etc.
When a driver operates a vehicle without these precautions, they are behaving in a negligent fashion.
The other factor is awareness. A person who is aware that they are having trouble such as a heart attack or seizure are required to get off the road ASAP.
For someone with no prior history of a serious condition that impairs driving, a sudden onset of that condition could be considered no-fault. A driver is not negligent for dealing with something of which they have no foreknowledge.
Determining the extent to which an impairment caused an accident often relies on establishing a timeline of the accident and the impaired motorist. Judges rely on expert testimony from neurologists, cardiologists, and medical professionals to make these rulings. Our job at Roadrunner Law Firm is to uncover the truth and prove it in court. The other side will surely try to hide their impairment, but we have the ability and experience to find out what really happened, and if their medical condition contributed to the accident.
If you’re involved in an accident and suspect the other party claims a medical condition was the cause, it is important to establish the facts. We can help with that.