Partial Fault

Partial fault is that feature of comparative negligence which allows claimants in an accident to seek recovery from defendants in accordance with their role in the accident compared with the role of the claimant. Utah law describes the concept of partial fault in 78B-5-819 as “the percentage or proportion of fault attributable to each person seeking recovery, to each defendant…and to any other person…for whom there is a factual and legal basis to allocate fault.” A defendant in a case may bear only partial fault for the accident because there were other parties at fault or because the claimant bears partial fault for their own injuries.

Example Sentence

While a car accident may arise primarily as a result of one driver’s actions, the other driver, automobile manufacturer, or even the government of the locale where the accident takes place may carry partial fault if the misjudgment was two-sided, the car’s safety mechanisms failed to deploy properly, or driving conditions were unsafe to begin with.

Case Study

One night, the automobiles of Boris and Natasha collide at an intersection, leaving Natasha’s car totaled, and her back in bad shape. At a financial loss, Natasha opts to take Boris to court to pay for her injuries. In her case against Boris, she asserts that he had been approaching the intersection at 87 miles per hour without his legally-mandated corrective lenses. However, Boris counters that Natasha would never have come to harm if she had not entered his path by running a red light with all of her car’s lights turned off. Because Natasha’s actions clearly contributed to the accident, she is found to be at partial fault, and the amount she can recovery from Boris’s insurance company is limited correspondingly.

Other Important Information

While an at-fault party in a Utah accident is not barred from recovery for their own injuries (this is a consequence of living in a no-fault state), he will probably have to look to his own PIP coverage. “A person seeking recovery may recover from any defendant…whose fault…exceeds the fault of the person seeking recovery,” according to 78B-5-817.

Partial Fault Definition by: Christensen & Hymas

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