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What does “modified comparative negligence” mean in a car crash?

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2023 | Car Accidents

Many vehicle collisions aren’t completely one driver’s fault. Even when only two cars are involved, the driver who’s predominantly to blame (or more likely, their insurance company) may try to make the case that the other one bears some responsibility.

Determining the percentage of each driver’s responsibility can be crucial to just how much compensation the at-fault driver is responsible for. When two vehicles are involved in a crash, one driver is generally more at fault than the other. 

What is the 51% rule?

Every state has different laws around negligence and compensation for vehicle crashes. Minnesota recognizes a “modified comparative negligence” rule that’s also known as the “51% rule.” That means that as long as one driver bears more than half the responsibility for a crash, they can’t collect any compensation for expenses and damages.

As the driver who’s less at fault, however, your degree of fault (if any) still matters to your compensation. For example, if you’re determined to be 20% at fault because you were going slightly over the speed limit when the other driver ran a red light and hit you, the total compensation to which you’d be entitled if you bore zero fault would be reduced by 20%.

Obtaining evidence can be crucial to your compensation

Since insurance companies don’t want to part with any more money than they have to, you can count on the at-fault driver’s insurer to look for anything you did wrong. This is why it’s crucial to obtain as much evidence as possible after a crash to prove the at-fault driver’s negligence. If police are called to the scene, their report can help, since they’ll talk to any witnesses. 

If you weren’t in any condition after the crash to take photos yourself, you may be able to obtain video from street cams, surveillance video from nearby businesses or even video from residents’ doorbell cameras in the area. You can’t do this alone. The best way to get all of the available evidence and to get the compensation to which you’re entitled is to seek legal guidance as soon as possible.