Negligence is a legal principle used to describe conduct that generates an unreasonable harm risk to others. If you’re negligent, and this negligence results in another individual to become harmed, then you’re liable for paying the damages. To win a negligence claim, the injured party will need to establish the following elements:
• The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff (e.g., reasonable care for the safety of other)
• The defendant failed to act reasonably, or violated its duty (e.g., a driver was intoxicated or reckless)
• The defendant’s violation was the cause of another person’s injuries
• The defendant’s violation was the injuries’ proximate cause (the defendant should’ve known that the violation would result in injury)
• The plaintiff suffered injuries, for which they could claim damages
Contributory negligence’s concept is used to characterize behavior that creates an unreasonable danger to one’s self. The notion is that a person has a duty to behave as a reasonable individual. When an individual doesn’t act this way, and harm takes place, that person could be held partially or wholly liable for the injury, even if another party was involved.
For instance, Dave, a driver, strikes Andrew, a pedestrian crossing the highway without carefully examining traffic or observing the warning sign of the adjacent street light. Who’s guilty in this case?
After a harmed party brings a negligence claim, the defendant could then claim contributory negligence against the plaintiff, effectively saying that the harmed took place at least partially due to the victim’s own actions. This method would be considered a contributory negligence counterclaim.
If the defendant can prove his contributory negligence claim, then the plaintiff could be entirely barred from getting damaged or the damages could be lowered to reflect his role in the injury. The pedestrian in the example, Andrew, would probably be deemed as at least partially guilty (and thus liable for a contributory negligence claim) for negligently crossing the street.
The majority of states have now taken on a comparative negligence method to contributory negligence, in which the negligence of every party for a given injury is deliberated when determining financial damages.
Before, the courts perceived contributory negligence as a bar to getting any damages. Under this traditional understanding, if an individual had contributed to their accident in any manner, the individual wasn’t entitled to payment for their injuries.
To try to reduce the severity, often unfair results from this method, the majority of states have now implemented the comparative negligence method.
There are two comparative negligence approaches:
• Pure Comparative Negligence—the damages acquired by the plaintiff are totaled and then lowered to reflect their contribution to their injury. For instance, if a plaintiff were awarded $10,000 compensation and the jury or judge established that the plaintiff was 50% responsible for their injury, they’d be awarded $5,000.
• Modified Comparative Negligence—the most common method. Plaintiff won’t recover if they’re found to be equally liable or more liable for the injury. Essentially, to get damages, the plaintiff shouldn’t be over 50% guilty of the resulting injury.