What Happens If Both Parties Are At-Fault In An Accident?

What happens if both parties are at-fault in an auto accident?
In 2010, a crash involving 22-year-old Sarah Bearden and Detective James Adams resulted in a fatality. This happened when Bearden was turning left from Hurstbourne Parkway onto Headley Hill Road when Detective Adams slammed into her car. This accident may appear to be Detective Adams fault since he was driving over 80 miles per hour when the accident occurred. However, Bearden also had a blood alcohol level over the legal limit and did not yield the right-of-way to Detective Adams. Unfortunately, Bearden died due to the injuries she received from the accident. This case was settled when the Louisville Metro Police Department agreed to pay $700,000 to the Bearden family. Now the question is, who was at-fault?

Related: Should There Be Tougher DUI Laws in Kentucky?

Both parties are at-fault
In this case, both parties are responsible for causing the accident. Detective Adams was speeding while Bearden was driving under the influence of alcohol. They both have violated traffic laws. Speeding has always been a problem because it triples the odds of being involved in a collision. Speeding is defined as the act of exceeding the speed limit and driving too fast for conditions or racing. In 2011, there was a total of 9,944 deaths or about a third of all motor vehicle fatalities resulted in speed-related crashes.

What's the speed limit and DUI laws in Kentucky?
In the mid-1970s, Congress established a national maximum speed limit. Today, 36 states have speed limits of 70 miles per hour or higher on some portion of their roadway systems. In Kentucky, the speed limit is 65 miles per hour on rural sections of its interstates and on most parkways. Other roads are as posted. Various speed enforcement campaigns have been employed in Kentucky, especially during the summer months such as “100 Days of Summer Heat,” “Blue Lights Across the Bluegrass” and “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine.”

Another road problem is driving under the influence of alcohol. If you get caught for a DUI in Kentucky, and you are a first-time offender, expect a 90-day license suspension, fines of $200 - $500 and jail time for up to 30 days. Penalties become more severe for second and subsequent convictions, especially if there are aggravating circumstances.

Related: Rising Speed Limits

How does this affect a wrongful death case?
It is clear that Bearden and Adams were both responsible for causing the accident. However, this does not mean that Bearden’s negligence or fault does not neglect recovery of damages for the wrongful death. Kentucky is considered as a “comparative fault state.” This simply means that there can be fault on the part of the deceased. This means that the decease's estate would still be able to pursue in a wrongful death claim. However, the deceased’s percentage of fault will reduce damages. Personal injury and wrongful death claims involve a lot of issues and legal matters. It is best to speak with a Kentucky accident attorney who understands comparative fault in the state and all applicable laws.

Michael Schafer
The Personal Injury Attorney for Louisville and Kentucky
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