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Roadway safety habits impact personal injury litigation for both defendants, plaintiffs, P.2

On behalf of Noland Law Firm, LLC posted in commercial vehicle accidents on Thursday, March 3, 2016.

Last time, we looked at several bills currently under consideration by Missouri lawmakers which deal with important issues in highway safety: helmet, seat belt and cell phone use. As we mentioned at the end of our last post, the decisions a motorist makes in these areas can impact not only the likelihood of an accident occurring and the severity of the injuries that result, but also the damages available in personal injury litigation, if personal injury damages are sought out.

In personal injury litigation cases, juries are able to assign relative degrees of liability to all parties involved. In many cases, liability is split only between the plaintiff and the defendant, or the crash victim and the motorist responsible for the crash. In some cases, there can be multiple defendants. Whatever the circumstances may be, juries are able to determine from the facts whether the plaintiff contributed at all to his or her own injuries. 

Many states recognize some form of comparative fault, though the specific rules vary. Here in Missouri, the rule is that a plaintiff can recover damages to the degree he or she was not responsible for his or her own injuries. This is true even when the defendant is determined to be only five or ten percent at fault. Other states bar plaintiffs from recovering damages if they are 50 or 50 percent at fault for their own injuries.

Different states also have different rules regarding whether the decision not use a helmet and not to buckle up can be used as evidence for purposes of assigning comparative fault. Distracted driving, however, including texting, can serve as evidence of comparative fault.

For plaintiffs, it is important to work with an experienced attorney to ensure that fault determinations are fair and accurate based on the evidence, and that a plaintiff is able to maximize his or her recovery. 

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