Your Guide to Comparative Negligence

When somebody gets injured in a car accident, deciding who’s responsible is frequently a difficult task. Certainly, there are a few accidents where it is pretty clear who’s at fault, but mostly, it is not so obvious. And so, here comes comparative negligence.

Comparative Negligence and Personal Injury Lawsuits by Injury-Law discusses the various concept of the term. Below are a few examples the article provides:

  • “Imagine person A is speeding while driving. Driver B suddenly moves into A’s lane without signaling, and driver A collides with B. Driver A may be held responsible for harm to driver B or to his vehicle, but A’s liability may also be reduced because driver B negligently failed to use his blinker.
  • In a slip and fall accident, person A is walking through an icy parking lot owned by person B. Person A notices ice, thinks she can walk over it, but falls and injures herself.  Even if person B was aware of the ice and should have cleaned it up, person A’s failure to avoid the ice may impact her ability to recover for the injuries.
  • Person A is hit by a car driven by person B. Person A was in the road at night and not crossing at a light or a cross walk.  Person B may be responsible for the injuries, but person A could be negligent because his decisions while crossing created a dangerous situation.”
car accident

Car accident scene

As we’ve mentioned, when somebody gets injured in a traffic accident or car collision, deciding who’s legally responsible is often a very tough task. There are certainly some accidents wherein it’s rather clear where to put the liability, but often, it isn’t so apparent. So for instance, we have two drivers: Brian and Abby. Brian stops at a red light and prepares to make a left turn onto a much busier road without a stop sign. Brian looks both ways sometimes and chooses to turn left when the road looks clear.

So for instance, we have two drivers: Brian and Abby. Brian stops at a red light and prepares to make a left turn onto a much busier road without a stop sign. Brian looks both ways sometimes and chooses to turn left when the road looks clear.

In the meantime, Abby drives down the highway 20 mph over the mandated speed limit. Abby is unable to decelerate and crashed into Brian’s vehicle. In this example, both parties bear some of the legal responsibility or fault: Abby certainly shouldn’t have been speeding, yet Brian should’ve been a tad more cautious and attentive before turning. So who’s responsible?

Pure Contributory Negligence – there are states that recognize such rule, wherein plaintiffs may not get damages even if they’re as little as a percent to being responsible for the incident. Five states abide by this legal rule: Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Alabama.

Now that you’ve grasped the term via the examples, let us now proceed to the details of the terms. Comparative Negligence by FindLaw features the various types of comparative negligence law.

“Pure Contributory Negligence – In states that recognize the pure contributory negligence rule, injured parties may not collect damages if they are as little as one percent to blame for the incident. Only five states follow this legal rule: Alabama, the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia.”

“Pure Comparative Fault – States recognizing the pure comparative fault rule of accident liability allow parties to collect for damages even if they are 99 percent at fault. However, the amount of damages is limited by the party’s actual degree of fault. So if a drunk driver is predominately to blame for an accident, but makes an injury claim because the other driver had a burned out taillight, he or she may collect a minimal amount of damages. Nearly one-third of states follow this rule, including California, Florida, and New York.”

“Modified Comparative Fault – The majority of states follow the modified comparative fault model, which is split into two distinct categories: the 50 percent bar rule and the 51 percent bar rule. In states following the 50 percent rule (including Colorado and Utah), a party that is 50 percent or more responsible for an accident may not recover any damages. In states adhering to the 51 percent rule, a party may not recover if he or she is 51 percent at fault.”

truck accident law

Big truck on the road

Pure Comparative Fault – the states that recognize the accident liability’s pure comparative fault rule enable parties to get for damages even though they’re 99% responsible. On the other hand, the damages amount is only limited by the actual extent of the fault of the party. Therefore, if an intoxicated driver is predominately legally responsible for an accident, but files a personal injury claim as the other party had a burnt out taillight, then he or she could get a minimum damages amount. Nearly 33% of states abide by this rule, including New York, Florida, and California.

Modified Comparative Fault – most states abide by the modified comparative fault rule, which is divided into two separate categories: the 51% bar rule and the 50% bar rule. In states that follow the 50% rule (including Utah and Colorado), a party that’s 50% or more at-fault for the accident may not get any damages. And in states following the 51% rule, a party may not get if that party is 51% responsible.

Confused? Get an Evaluation Completely Free

It is normal to feel quite overwhelmed by the negligence law’s complexities, especially when you could be partly at fault for the injuries you sustained. If you’re filing a case, just talk with an experienced personal injury attorney. You actually have nothing to lose by having a lawyer assess your claim at completely no cost.

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