To be “negligent” is to act (or fail to act) in a way that violates a duty you owe to another individual. In a situation where a driver hits an illegally parked car, both parties have been negligent. The parker had a duty to follow regulation and park the car in a legal spot to avoid danger; the driver had a duty to drive diligently to avoid such collisions. Since both parties are at fault for the collision, “comparative fault” or “contributory negligence” formulas are used to look at facts and circumstances leading up to a collision.
Who Is at Fault?
Comparative fault law allows the court to assess fault by apportioning negligence among multiple parties who share in the liability for the collision. Hitting a parked car is negligent; however, parking a car illegally is also negligent. That negligence may have been partial cause of the collision. The concept of comparative fault divides the total amount of damaged between the party who parked illegally and the driver who hit the parked car. The amount for which each party is liable depends on the proportion of fault for which each party is found liable.
Different states have different laws. In some states, contributory negligence is the law.
“Contributory negligence” is conduct on the part of the injured party that contributes to the negligence of the defendant in causing the injury or damage. The pure contributory negligence rule is a defense which says that a damaged party cannot recover any damages if even one percent at fault.
Missouri: Comparative Fault
In other states, like Missouri, comparative fault is the formula for assessing liability. The term “comparative fault” refers to a system of apportioning damages between negligent parties based on their proportionate shares of fault. Under a comparative fault system, a plaintiff’s negligence will reduce the amount of damages the plaintiff can recover based on the plaintiff’s percentage of fault. For example, if the injured party is found to be 10 percent liable for the incident, the defendant will only have to compensate the plaintiff 90 percent of the damages awarded.
Kansas: Modified Comparative Fault
Lastly, the remaining states (including Kansas) implement the modified comparative fault system. Under this system, each party is held responsible for damages in proportion to their own percentage of fault, unless the plaintiff’s negligence reaches a certain designated percentage (e.g., 50%). If the plaintiff’s own negligence reaches this percentage bar, then the plaintiff cannot recover any damages. So, for example, in the example above the plaintiff was 10 percent at fault and would be able to recover 90 percent of the damage award. However, if the plaintiff was found to be 60 percent liable, he or she would not receive any damages.
What to Do After an Accident
If you have hit an illegally parked car, contact an experienced car accident attorney today to discuss your options. Just because no one was in the car, does not mean you are completely at fault. Contact a Kansas City car accident attorney at the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm today for a free consultation.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.