How to Determine Comparative Negligence in Auto Accidents

Sometimes people who have been involved in a car accident are looking for information on how to determine comparative negligence in auto accidents. The reason is that many U.S. states have adopted some form of this comparative standard for assessing blame in a traffic accident case. This, in turn, affects whether insurance companies will pay out on behalf of their policy holders. Due to some of the vagueness surrounding comparative negligence criteria, and the way that some of these traffic cases turn out, it's helpful for the lay person to have an understanding of how professional claims adjusters determine comparative negligence and how to make sure that their voice is heard during the resolution process.


  1. Image titled Determine Comparative Negligence in Auto Accidents Step 1
    Understand state laws on comparative negligence. Every state has its own traffic code and civil laws.Those that deal with comparative negligence have specific laws related to determining who was at fault in an accident. An example would be a driver passes in a no passing zone, but the driver that hits him is driving 20 miles an hour over the speed limit. The courts can rule that one driver is for example 30 percent at fault and the other is 70% at fault.
  2. Image titled Buy Vehicles from Wholesale Auctions Step 1
    Consider actions or lack of actions by drivers. When claims adjusters and courts determine comparative negligence they often look at whether any particular driver did various preventative actions before the crash.
    • Document preventative actions. After a crash, don't make any statements to anyone in respect to the crash. " I did not see him. " or " I could not stop." are examples of things you should not say. It may be helpful to document through eyewitnesses or other means whether a driver honked a horn, swerved to avoid another vehicle, stopped competently at an intersection, or otherwise acted to prevent or minimize a crash.
  3. Image titled Become an Auto Body Repair Technician Step 3
    Evaluate each driver's pre-crash condition. In assessing comparative negligence, certain distracted conditions are very important to establish. Whether or not each driver was on a cell phone or under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be critical to determining comparative negligence.
    • Again, it's important to try to document any distraction of a driver involved in an accident. It may be helpful to get these details into a police report. Some drivers who anticipate challenges in establishing the facts will actively look for additional eyewitnesses at the scene while the police are making the initial report. Any photo documentation will also be extremely helpful.
  4. Image titled Determine Comparative Negligence in Auto Accidents Step 4
    Find out how the claims adjuster has assessed. These individuals are most usually responsible for assessing comparative negligence in an accident.
  5. Image titled Determine Comparative Negligence in Auto Accidents Step 5
    Talk to a personal injury lawyer or defense attorney as necessary. Many of those who are involved in an accident where comparative negligence is assessed find it necessary to rely on a skilled attorney to advance their interests.


  • Watch out for excessive judgments by an insurance company through a claims adjuster. Insurance companies look to limit payouts, and the reason that professional legal counsel is so often necessary for drivers is that claims adjusters will sometimes use arbitrary, or even irrelevant data, to twist comparative negligence in a traffic case to avoid payouts. That's where the lawyers will ultimately have to argue the case and agree on appropriate comparative negligence.

Article Info

Categories: Cars & Other Vehicles